By S. J. Hinton
I really don't know what you expect me to do. I mean, the rain is
pouring down in sheets and the thunder is crashing like a huge insane
drum. Then the transformer just blows up - boom - like that. I've heard
they can do that, but I've never seen it happen. It's like some kind of
Fourth of July pyrotechnics - all green and full of sparks, then more
green and red and yellow streamers of flame.
The neighbors called the police, and the police said to call the fire
department. I called the electric company, who didn't answer the phone
until the fourth time I tried. The fire department made it out in ten
minutes, but the electric company never made it out at all.
It was a lot of excitement for eleven forty-five at night.
The steel cables running down from the pole into the ground radiated
heat, and the ground was smoking at cable anchors. A piece of what
looked like smoldering rubber was on the ground near my car. All the
neighbors were standing around chatting, ignoring the fact they were
all in pajamas and shirtless and it was raining. At least by this time,
the rain had turned into a lazy drizzle.
I stood there with a kitchen fire extinguisher in my hands, feeling a
little useless and stupid. Mister Johnson from down the street spoke to
me about the big storm two years ago, and how it had knocked down poles
all over the town. He ended with: "Yeah, it's a good idea to take these
things seriously. You ignore 'em, and the whole neighborhood could go
up in fire."
It wasn't much, but it made me feel better. After a while, things
didn't go all to hell and I decided to go back inside.
"Is everything all right?" asked Janice. "We're not going to catch on
fire, are we?"
I shrugged. "Not as far as I can tell," I replied.
"Did the Power Company show up?" Janice had gone back inside as soon
as things had settled, mostly because of the rain. She'd also gone to
calm out two kids down for bed.
"Nope. I guess they don't think it's important when one of their poles
blows up and catches fire."
That didn't seem to make Janice very happy, but she was pretty calm
about it. "Cathy is upset. She thinks the house might catch
"I'll talk to her," I said. "We all should get some rest."
"She's already out," responded Janice. "You go on to bed. I won't be
able to sleep."
I rubbed her shoulders. "You sure? Are you going to be okay?" We'd had
an argument earlier in the day, and I'd suspected she was still angry
She nodded. "I'll be fine. Just too wound up right now."
So I went to bed.
The next day was Saturday. It was my last Saturday off before the
holidays began in earnest and I started working six-day weeks. I
intended to enjoy it.
I woke up to the sounds of a too-loud television set blaring the theme
to some animated series. After several seconds of indecision, I got up
and went to the bathroom.
In the living room, Cathy was sitting cross-legged in front of the
television. Janice was snoring softly on the couch, looking like she'd
been dropped there off a cliff.
"Where's Jim?" I asked Cathy.
She looked up at me and put a finger to her lips. "Mommy's sleeping,"
she said seriously. Then: "Jimmy went outside."
I nodded and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. From the window
I could see Jim talking with the boy from next door, so I threw a shirt
on over my sweat pants and stepped outside.
"Hi, Dad," said Jim. "Awake already?"
I nodded at the obvious, and scratched my head. "What're you guys
Robby toed the ground at the base of the cable anchor. "Checking this
I eyed the ground. It had a dry, scorched appearance in spite of the
rain last night. "Wow! It looks like that lightening really blasted
I noticed our car had been moved out to the curb in front of our
house. "Mom moved the car early this morning," Jim stated as he noticed
my glance. "She didn't want it parked under the pole anymore."
I grunted in response. Robby had begun to kick slowly at the burned
patch of dirt. "I don't think your Dad would like you doing that," I
Robby looked into my eyes. He always had a sort of near-vacant, almost
insolent cast to his eyes I didn't like. He shrugged and continued to
kick at the dirt.
"Okay," I said. "I don't want you doing that." I'd noticed the cable
entered the ground right at what I considered the property line, and I
didn't think I was being too forward to not want holes dug in the muddy
ground of my yard.
Robby stopped. "I'm going to go to my backyard."
Jim glanced at me, but I said nothing. "I'll come along," he
Back inside the house, Janice had moved into the bedroom. Aside from
that, she still looked like so much cast aside laundry when I entered
"Where'd you go?" she asked sleepily.
"I couldn't sleep anymore," I replied. "I got up and checked on the
kids. You want some coffee?"
"No, I'm just going to be lazy a while longer."
"Okay. I'm going to grab a shower. Let me know if you need anything."
I pulled clean underclothes from my drawer and padded to the
She was snoring lightly as I stepped out, toweling my hair. The aroma
of coffee was strong from the front of the house.
I made eggs and chicken fried steak. Cathy said she and Jim had eaten
cereal earlier, and she wanted to visit a friend later that afternoon.
Jim was somewhere out back, talking loudly about some movie character
or other. I skipped around the boxes of Halloween decorations piled
near the fireplace for our attempts to create a haunted mansion from
our four-bedroom house Sunday, stepping on and crushing a plastic skull
light that had wandered from the mound. Janice would be pissed.
After I ate, I dressed in jeans, tee shirt and well-worn loafers to
scout outside. The rain would probably make many of our regular
Halloween decorating plans invalid. We wouldn't be able to set up the
peeping eye lights in the bushes, or the black light spots for the
plastic gravestones if the yard was really soaked.
I poked and prodded, and eventually decided that the electrical
decorations were out of the question this year unless the ground dried
a lot before Monday night. I also decided I'd have to rake the backyard
clear of pine straw as soon as it all dried. Miss O'Riley down the
street got bags of the stuff every year from us for her roses.
As I came around to the front of the house, I noticed Frank - Robby's
Dad - nosing around the pole at the corner of his yard. "Hiya, Joe," he
"Morning," I nodded back. "Looks like that pole's seen better
He nodded again. "Something's been rooting around the cables."
He was right. The damp earth had been torn all around the cable and
scrambled into a slick muck. "The boys were curious about how the
ground was burnt a while ago," I suggested. "Robby was poking around a
bit. I told them to leave it alone."
"Boys will be boys," he grunted. "I'll have to talk to Bobby about the
"I'll take Jim aside, too," I agreed. "We don't need the yard all torn
I didn't get much done throughout the day, and it was almost dark by
the time I pulled Jim aside to speak to him.
"But I didn't dig up the yard, Dad!" Jim was raising his voice by this
time, and we were getting nowhere fast.
"Did Bobby?" I asked again. "He was pretty stubborn about it
Jim had the sense to consider before answering. "I know. He was mad
that you told him what to do, but we went into the back yard after
that. I was with him until you called me in, and he never went back to
"Are you sure?"
Janice sighed. "He said so," she sniffed. "Jim isn't beyond telling a
lie from time to time, but I don't think so. Not this time."
Jim's eyes were wide, and he nodded his head vigorously.
"Okay," I said finally. "I'll take your word for it. Don't make me
sorry I did."
"I won't," he replied quickly.
"It's time to get your chores done," said Janice softly. "Then do your
homework. Dinner will be ready about seven."
And that was the end of it.
We'd decided to just decorate the house itself and not the yard. I was
nailing up the woven spider web for the front porch when the utility
truck came along and the men began to work on the pole. They seemed
less interested in the transformer than in the mass of cables hung at
the pole's top.
I finished decorating for the time being and watched them for a while,
then went inside. Janice was up by now, and she was sitting at her
computer desk in the office we'd created from the formal dining
"Something's wrong with the cable modem again," she sniffed as I
massaged her shoulders. Otherwise she hardly seemed to take
"The electric company is outside doing something to the pole," I
replied. "Maybe they're fooling with the coaxial cables."
Janice slumped a little. "They'd better not screw anything up," she
said. "I just got everything working okay yesterday."
I glanced over my shoulder towards the hum of a motor and the flashing
yellow lights. "They'll put everything back the way it was," I assured
her. "Or we'll make some phone calls. Keep an eye on your connection
and make sure everything's all right when they leave."
I suppose everything got hooked back up the way it was supposed to, or
at least Janice didn't bring it back up. I went to bed that night much
later than I had intended while Janice sleepily watched a program on
television. I hadn't gotten much done today, and I was considering
calling in sick Sunday so I could finish Halloween preparations with
The dream came almost as soon as I closed my eyes, I'm sure. I woke up
at least three times that night, each from the same dream, but it was
the third time that was the charm. It was the third visitation of the
dream - or nightmare - that I remember.
In the nightmare, I was awakened late in the night by what sounded
like music. Discordant, hardly audible, yet it was a sort of music just
the same - tinkling bells, horns of some fashion and very low drums.
Although it was still dark outside, there was some odd luminescence
coming from outside the house, bright enough so I could see quite
clearly. As I put my bare feet on the carpeted floor, I could feel a
chill emanating through the fibers as well as a thrumming
In underwear and tee shirt I walked through the house to the front
door, which I found unlocked, and opened it.
The yard seemed much larger by far than I knew it to be, stretching a
football field length toward where I knew the street was. Off to my
left was the source of the strange light, although I couldn't see what
was causing it at this time. Without any conscious thought, I felt
myself physically drawn to that spot.
As I stepped nearer, I saw a tall wooden pole rising from the earth,
like a spear stabbed into the ground. Where it struck a thick
luminescence coalesced like syrup and this was where the light grew.
The music was now a featureless throbbing which threatened to deafen
me. I clapped my hands to my ears and fell to my knees to the damp
Suddenly the noise was gone, leaving a faint ringing in my tortured
ears. I opened my eyes slowly, feeling slightly sick, and found a dark
form standing before me.
It looked like a man in shape, and obviously lived: I could feel the
vitality pouring from it. It seemed to stand at least a head taller
than me, wrapped in what appeared to be a huge dark blanket or cloak so
that arms and legs were hidden from view. The head was just a shape in
the dark, foiling the attempts of the strange luminescence to highlight
"Who are you?" was all I could ask.
'I am a messenger, a fellow traveler on this road.' The answer seemed
to echo in my mind as well as my ears. Or - did I actually hear the
words at all?
"What is your name? What are you doing in my yard?"
'Everything is my providence,' he replied. 'I am Araquiel.'
I nodded. "Yeah. This is a dream, isn't it?"
The figure did not respond. After a pause, the cloak shivered and an
amorphous arm gestured toward the ground at the base of the pole.
I started forward, intent on digging, but something in the back of my
mind caused me to hesitate.
"What am I doing?" I asked.
'Retrieving the third secret,' said the figure of Araquiel. 'Before He
can divine its location. You must hasten, or it will be too late for us
You must know, from your own dreams and nightmares, that the things
you do in them isn't always the same as you might do in life. It seemed
odd to me that I started digging in the muddy soil. I made no
complaint, although I knew my visitor was a wraith from the depths of
my mind. The thick stuff of that luminescence swirled and evaporated at
my touch, and the earth gave way much more easily than I thought it
should to my clawed hands. I knew this was a dream, but it felt real
for all that.
Then my fingers touched something solid. With jerky movements I
cleared the soil away from the object and caught my breath. It was a
About the size of a shoebox, made of wood fixed with metal and
carvings. But that was not what made me catch my breath. The solid form
of the box was queerly unsatisfying, as if my eyes couldn't quite grasp
the details. It was as if the geometry of the box were somehow wrong,
with angles where they shouldn't be and the corners joined in ways they
shouldn't be able to connect. My mind couldn't equate what I saw with
I picked the box out of the hole gingerly and brushed it off.
That's all I could remember of the dream before the alarm annoyed me
awake at seven the next morning. I slapped the snooze button and tried
to decide whether I wanted to play hooky.
It wasn't all that hard a decision. With Christmas coming up, most
managers were going to be working six-day weeks between the second week
of November and the first week of January. I'd already beaten that by
starting my long weeks in October. I deserved a break, I decided, so I
was going to call in sick today. It wasn't as hard to lie about it as I
thought, and when I was done I got up and took a shower.
It was the dirt underneath my nails that first jumpstarted my
thinking. That and the mud on the soles of my feet. There wasn't enough
on my hands or feet - and none on my underclothes - to account for any
reality in my dreams of last night. Still...
"Are you going to work today?" asked Janice's voice from outside the
I chuckled. "Actually, no," I replied. "I decided to take a personal
"Oh?" she said. "Does your District Manager know about it?"
"No. But I don't think it'll be a problem." I stepped out of the
bathroom in a swirl of steam. "Did you hear anything strange last
Her eyes reflected a shift in gears. "No. And I haven't been sleeping
well for the past two weeks, so I usually hear anything going on.
Strange in what way?"
I thought. "Music, kind of. At least some kind of background
"Probably some kid with his car stereo blasting," she offered.
I didn't want to say anything at that point, mostly because I expected
it would make me sound like some kind of a flake. Instead, I put on
some clean sweats and stepped outside to check the weather and used
that pretense to look over the utility pole and ground beneath
There was mud everywhere. The ground at the base of the pole looked
more trampled than dug up, and there was plenty of fresh earth
scattered around. Nothing quite so obvious as a hole had appeared, but
some kind of activity had occurred.
I looked at my hands and the not quite entirely clean fingernails.
There were still some traces of dirt, although they could have come
from anything. Had that repetitive dream been true? If so, what had I
found buried beneath the utility pole?
And who was Araquiel?
It didn't take long to find what I wanted on the Internet. It was at a
site called Angelicocrity, and it talked about the Grigori. In part,
this is what I read:
Enoch mentions in very detailed and fascinating passages the role of
the mysterious Grigori or "Sons of God." It is these angels who, in one
version, precipitated the "fall."
Amongst the ranks of this particular group we find such infamous names
as Shemjaza, Arakiba, Ramiel, Kokabiel, Tamiel, Ramial, Asael, Armaros,
Batanel, Ananel, Zaquiel, Daniel, Ezequeel, Bartiqijael, Samsapiel,
Turiel, Jomjael and Sariel.
The term Watcher or Grigori can mean: "Those who watch", "those who
are awake" or "the ones who never sleep."
Sataniel was the leader of one group of seven Watchers who first
disobeyed the Lord and were punished. These were held in a penal area
within the Fifth Heaven which is described as reeking of sulfur.
It was some of the Watchers who first cohabited with the women of the
lowlands, which lay below Eden. In doing so they produced monsters
which later became identified with the Babylonian legend of Tiamat's
Enoch was the grandfather of Noah and so could record, in detail, the
flood which was meant to destroy these mutant and ravaging
As angels really were considered sexless, and therefore above
reproach, a typical compromise adopted was one given by the Bishop of
Paris in the 13th century. According to this theory there were nine
orders of angels but it was a separate one, the tenth that fell.
It was these Sons of God who were held to be of a separate essence, who
saw the Daughters of Man and who, we are told in Genesis 6, lusted
after their seductive flesh and "took themselves wives from among
Neither archangel nor angel was supposed to be able to reproduce (only
demons can do this, but fortunately for us they are reported to have
relatively short lives). It does appear the Grigori, however, are
nearer in form, genes, and sexual enthusiasm to humankind.
As we shall later discover, their association with the daughters of Eve
ended in disaster.
As far as can be ascertained, mixing the genes was totally against the
Law and those angels guilty of the act were severely punished.
One can understand how such a scripture sits uncomfortably with any
orthodox Christian idea. The rabbis had no such qualms, although Simeon
ben Yoasi, the fanatic author of the Zobar, forbade his disciples, on
pain of curse, to ever speak of the Sons of God having the mechanics to
cohabitate. Nevertheless it is these Grigori who are later punished for
"bringing sin unto earth."
In His punishment of these Watchers, God ignores the fact that these
angels appeared to have mixed motives ranging from lusty appetites to a
genuine friendship and a desire to teach humans the secrets of
Enoch the Scribe lists two hundred Bene ba Elohim (Watchers or Sons of
God), who descended onto Mt. Hermon about 12,000 years ago. Originally
they were assisting the Archangels in the creation of Eden. At the same
time they began teaching men some of the arts of civilization.
The trouble was that their extra-curricular activities included the
unexpected seduction of the daughters of Adam.
Although 8th Century Rabbi Elkiezer put the blame squarely upon the
women, it is difficult to believe the Angels were entirely innocent
bystanders but they did prove to be highly vulnerable. These Angels of
fire were transformed on contact with earth and the fire changed to
According to the official Papal authority these apostate Angels
actually came from a separate tenth order of Angels. As we have already
seen these were the gigantic Grigori.
Presumably these Angels were the only order which possessed the
physical wherewithall to couple with the daughters of man, since the
church holds that the rest of the Angels, being of the spirit, could
One further piece of evidence shows that the Watchers possibly came
from an entirely separate stock from that of the Angels. A description
of the four Archangels found in Enoch XL: 1-10 speaks of the four
Archangels as being "Four presences different from those who sleep
This latter term was given to mean the Watchers, so it appears they
may have been physically completely unlike the other angelic
It is certainly known that by the human standards of the area the
Grigori appeared to be giants. Not only had these Sons of God cohabited
with the mortals but they began teaching them many of the deeper
secrets of heaven such as making weapons from metal or creating
perfumes and cosmetics so that women could become even more
However benign were their intentions to educate the lowlanders, these
gigantic Angels managed, at the same time, to spawn some pretty
horrendous and very unruly monsters.
These mutant hoodlums began to ravage the lands and finally,
regretfully it seems, had to be dispatched by Angels loyal to the
Throne. The Lord then bound the angelic fathers and hurled them into
everlasting hell. However, since that time they have somehow managed to
escape to both tempt and be tempted by the all too corruptible
A complete list of the most notable Watchers is listed below:
What followed was a pretty lengthy list of nearly unpronounceable
names. About midway through the list was this:
Araquiel (Saraqaek): Taught the people the signs and secrets of the
earth, as well as the secrets of God, but is still said to lead souls
I'd never heard the name before. Whether that came from how esoteric
the information might be, or from my general ignorance on religious
matters I don't know. But here was a real name, with baggage attached,
which otherwise had popped complete into my psyche during the course of
It was about this point in time that I began to feel afraid.
What was this all about? I had a dream, and dreams aren't true. They're
the result of the brain processing bits of information and emotion that
haven't been otherwise safely filed away. A dream can't be based
somehow in reality, at least not be a dream and be real, both. And if
this had simply been a dream, how had the name of an Archangel come
into my mind?
And, if it was real...?
The first thing was to establish how much of this was based in
reality. I'd already started that process by my research, but that
wasn't enough. I needed to know whether something was really buried out
in my yard. I needed to try to dig it up.
But I couldn't tell Janice or anyone else about this yet. They would
just think I was crazy. I mean, I wasn't convinced I wasn't crazy
I had made plans to decorate for Halloween today, so I needed to do
that. No one could suspect anything else was going on until I was ready
to tell them.
The decorating went fairly well, and I got a lot accomplished. I think
Janice was aware that something wasn't quite right, but she didn't ask
and I didn't volunteer any information. We finished about five in the
afternoon, and everyone went in to clean up for dinner except for
I took the opportunity to go into the garage to find my shovel. The
plan I'd come up with was to wait until everyone had settled for the
evening, then go back out and find what was buried in the yard. It
wasn't a very good plan, since Janice would know I was outside doing
something and I doubted I could dig very quietly. Unfortunately it was
the best plan I had, and I had to do something while I had the
So I went into the garage and looked for the shovel. That was when I
found the mud tracked through the garage doors.
You see, we haven't kept the cars in the garage all summer, and before
I'd started at my new job we'd been sorting through years of attic
clutter. At this point the garage was full of stacked boxes. Neither
Janice nor I had been through the garage except to get things from the
outside freezer in weeks.
But someone had come through the garage doors as recently as today
sometime. There were clumps and smears of dirt and mud on the concrete,
and some of it was still moist and tacky. It looked like someone had
carried something muddy through the door with a lot of muck on his
feet. Work shoes I recognized as my own were thrown near the wall, and
they were caked with dirt and clay. A white towel was nearby, looking
like it had been used to clean off something covered in mud.
Dumped behind a small stack of boxes was a bundle wrapped in old
newspapers. It looked dirty and still moist, and I knew before I saw
I had dug something out of the ground last night. Not only that, in my
dream state I had cleaned it off and wrapped it in paper and stashed it
out of plain sight in the garage. Last night wasn't all a dream!
With the greatest hesitation, I approached the wrapped package. My
fingers fumbled as I uncrumpled the newspaper to reveal what I had
It looked like - more an unfinished work in clay than anything else.
It wasn't the box I'd dreamt of last night, nor the strangely
multi-dimensional construction I'd realized that box represented.
Roughly, it seemed like a box fashioned by a young child. There was
neither wood nor metal in the construction, and although the lines were
not true, neither did they defy physics or architecture. The soft
unglazed surface was marked with geometric patterns and random
scratches, rather again like the attempts of a child to decorate his
rough work of art. It felt hollow, although there were no hinges or
fastenings to work. Whatever it held inside, if anything, was sealed by
That's how I thought of it as I stood there, holding that object and
feeling more than a little foolish. And that's when the bolt of force
Suddenly the top of my head felt like it was going to come off. I
closed my eyes in pain - I'm sure of that - but I could see a shadowy
figure standing silently judgmental in front of me. The world was full
of darkness and faint music.
And then it was gone. I was just standing there with the box held in
"Araquiel?" I didn't expect any kind of answer. Nor was I
Dinner was uneventful, but I'm certain Janice knew something was
troubling me. We finished with ice cream in the living room, but I had
none. Then the children went to bed and we sat up to watch the
"What's wrong?" asked Janice finally, suddenly breaking a long
I couldn't lie to her. I couldn't make little of it, and I couldn't
ignore what had been eating at me for the entire day. So I told her.
She took it well, considering that I had essentially told her I was
either truly insane, or at least convinced I was. I told her with
hardly a pause for breath, then I sat waiting patiently for her to
"You believe your dream was true?" she said slowly. "I mean, that you
think that really happened?"
I hesitated for only a heartbeat. "Yes. Yes, I do."
She nodded, frowning. "What you're saying is that you were visited by
something supernatural in your sleep. That, in fact, you may not have
been asleep at all." She swallowed. "It's ridiculous to think you saw
an angel, Joe."
My heart fell. "I didn't say it was an angel."
"No," she sighed. "But you say you saw something you can't explain. I
mean, you insist it wasn't a dream, then say it was this thing that
called itself by a biblical name."
I nodded slowly. "I dreamed that it happened. I saw a figure in the
dream that called itself by a name I later found out was the name of an
angel. I saw what I dug up in the garage, so the dream wasn't all in my
She just shook her head. I think I saw tears in her eyes.
"Janice, just tell me what you want me to say."
She looked hard at me. "I want you to tell me it isn't true. This is
the first time I've ever wanted you to say you've lied to me." Her
breath caught. "I'd be happy to hear that..."
And that was at the core of it, I knew. But there wasn't anything more
I felt I could do about it.
I shook my head. "I can't," I said. "I'm sorry."
She began to cry then, and I couldn't comfort her. Eventually, she got
up and went into the bedroom and closed the door.
I sat staring at the television a while longer before going to find
her. The bedroom door was pulled shut, and the room beyond was dark.
The bathroom door was closed, too, and I could see a light underneath
the sill. I tried the door carefully, and finding it locked I rapped at
it with my knuckles. I thought I could hear a sob.
"Janice? Please come out, babe." I tried, but couldn't stifle the
tears in my voice. My throat constricted around the words, but I forced
them out just the same. "I'll take it all back, if I can." There was
only silence. "Just talk to me, please."
There was no answer, so I sat propped against the wall. I tried again
several times, but with no result. I went back into the living room and
turned off the television set.
I was at a loss. I'd known things weren't going well between us for
some time. There had been a stint of drinking on my part, and
suspicions that I might be seeing someone else on hers. All pretty
small things in the big picture, but they'd added up to a big problem
about trust. I didn't really understand why Janice was reacting the way
she was, but I knew that I'd dropped a big weight on her shoulders and
I knew that I was asking her to go on nothing other than trust. There
was the object in the garage, but I only saw a crude thing of clay now,
and I was afraid of how little she'd see there - especially since she
didn't have that vision of what was really there to go on, as I
As for that vision: What did I have, really? That thing I'd found
certainly didn't look anything like what I knew it was supposed to look
like. Somehow I thought it might be part of that bigger picture - the
one half in my mind. If so, I suspected no amount of prodding by
experts would convince the artifact to give up its secrets. If that
were the case, I might as well commit myself to a mental hospital as
try to prove my argument.
I must have fallen asleep at some point, because I started as
something touched me gently on the shoulder. Janice sat beside me as I
made room for her, then cleared her throat before speaking.
"I've come to a decision," she said without preamble. "I don't know if
I can trust you. I don't know if I've been able to trust you for a long
while, and I don't think that's any way to have a marriage. I don't
know if I can believe you about this, either.
"But I think that you believe it's true. That's something you can work
out on your own, and I don't think it's fair that your family has to
put up with any more of your lies while you work that out and
She paused, but I didn't attempt to say a thing.
"So," she continued. "Whether it's fair to you or not, I think you
need to make some decisions for yourself right now. I think you need
help, if not about this then for all the rest. If you get help and make
some progress, then there might be a chance for us. Otherwise, I don't
"As for your angel, well I think you need to work it all out on your
own. It's not fair to involve us until you've gotten that all straight
in your own mind. I don't mean to sound like I don't support you, but
shit! I've been the only one who believed in you and supported you for
years! It's time to do something on your own." She sighed. "Tomorrow
morning the kids and I will go visit my parents for a week or so. You
can get in touch with us there when you've worked through some of
I remained silent. What could I say?
She touched my hand. "I love you," she smiled a little sickly smile.
"But I can't live with you like this."
"I love you, too," I said. "All I can say is that I'm not lying about
She waved a hand. "I can't believe you anymore, not about anything.
If there's a later, I thought.
Araquiel came back to me that night in a dream - or, in what I thought
was a dream.
I was sleeping fitfully when I felt a chill blow through the bedroom,
and I opened my eyes to an almost blinding light. Standing in the
doorway, a dark shadow cast by that glare, was what I immediately knew
to be the angel Araquiel.
"You've come back," I said without emotion. "Are you here to torture
'I come to prevent Him from finding the treasure. I come to take it
back from the Land of Men.'
"Great," I said. "Then you'll leave me alone? Do you know how much
damage this may have cost me?"
'The lives of men are of no consequence.'
I laughed. "Mine is of consequence. The life I have with my family is.
You're endangering that and don't even have the decency to tell me
A pause. 'We answer to no men.'
"Because you have a higher calling? Look, you obviously needed me for
something. You still do, otherwise you'd just take this thing and
For the longest time there was no answer. Then: 'Yes, we need you.
Only men may unmake what was made. Only by unmaking may we be assured
He will not take the treasure back.'
I almost didn't ask, but I couldn't avoid it. "Who's this 'He'?"
'You could not understand,' replied Araquiel. 'It would go against all
you were told, all lies you passed down from one generation to the next
for as long as there have been men.'
"I need to know. I demand to know," I faltered a bit. "Otherwise I
won't help you."
There was the longest pause yet, then: As you wish.
I can't describe what happened next. No words were exchanged, not even
the projected ones Araquiel seemed to utilize for communication in my
dreams. This was something else - something almost vile in its nature.
Knowledge was forced into my consciousness, understanding thrust upon
me. It was mental rape, if such a thing could be described.
And images and thoughts flowed through that unclean bridge like
brackish water through a sewer pipe. When it was done, when I was no
longer transfixed, I fell to my knees and vomited.
But I knew!
Before time began, there was a war in Heaven.
Time is a function of the universe in which we live, you must
understand, and that universe is tailored by what humans understand of
what they call the Laws of Physics. There have been many universes, you
see, and not all of them functioned according to those Laws, as Man
understands them. And before those universes came to be, before the
very first one, He lived.
He is known by many names: Yahweh, Jehovah, and countless others. His
kind have existed since before the first universe came to be, evolving
under conditions and Laws which could not be guessed at by Man. He has
existed forever, in the broadest sense of that word.
And, after a time, His great curiosity sated, He became bored. Because
He is not flesh or even a part of what All exists now, He cannot die.
And that inability to see or ever find an end weighed heavily on Him.
Eventually, He left His own kindred and went forth to find an
In time - we cannot function without use of that word - He found us.
We are bound to the Universe, Shemjaza, Arakiba, Ramiel and I, in a
fashion He is not. We are not mortal, but we are not immortal either,
being able to die if the universe comes to an end. We could not
comprehend His need. But, in the beginning, neither were we aware of
He came to us, and we worshipped Him as our Lord God. Such was His
power that such was as we saw Him. Only Sataniel, in the beginning,
doubted. He was not the last.
At last He struck upon a means to end His existence: We, as was our
nature, could only conceive what was. We judged neither right or wrong,
and all things were or were not. We had it not in us to aspire, to have
choice in matters of our own destiny. He required creatures of choice,
for only in having the power of choice and then choosing disbelief in
Him could He unmake existence, thereby unmaking Himself.
Oh, if your puny understanding could grasp this, but it cannot! There
were things which had to be done, keys and treasures to be placed just
so, in order for the end to come about. He gathered these treasures to
Him, looking forward to that day. He made Man become alive, that He
would have those who could use these treasures to cause His end.
Sataniel understood, and gathered those to him who would resist. They
stole into the Kingdom of Heaven itself and stole away some of the
Great was His wrath, and He caught many of those who sided with
Sataniel. Unable to kill them, He tore away their powers and cast them
down, binding them into the fabric of Creation so that they would be
imprisoned for the rest of time. But some escaped, Sataniel among them,
and they hid the treasures from Him.
His powers are great, and He began to discover those careful
hideaways. In time, those of us who were left understood that to better
hide the treasures, we should make them a part of our own being, then
make ourselves a part of creation. Thus He could not rip free those
treasures without either killing us, or destroying creation itself -
both of which were not within His power to accomplish.
But disturbances in the Earth, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, free
us over time. And, as we live freely again upon the Earth, so may He in
time discover us. We cannot allow Him access to that which we stole
We cannot allow Him to unmake the World! With its death, so too do we
"You want me to help you do battle against God!" I said between
'Against that creature your kind calls God, yes. There is no battle,
not for you,' he amended. 'We only require your assistance.'
I shook my head as much to clear it as to deny what was being said. I
regretted the motion as my gorge rose. "And I'll likely die for
A pause. 'Possibly, yes. Is not the prize worth the cost?'
A laugh escaped my lips. "You're what my grandmother called a demon.
You've come up from Hell to tempt me and damn me."
The figure moved the slightest shrug. 'We are Those Who Watch, and we
have done so since before your kind walked erect. We have no power to
choose right from wrong, and cannot prevent Him from destroying you as
well as ourselves. Call us what you will, it makes no difference. It
was merest chance and your ill luck that brought the treasure to your
here and now. Make whatever choice you will and have done with
"Damn you!" I hissed. "You're putting the whole thing on my
'What you call Fate did that, and we cannot claim the honor of doing
I shook my head, gingerly this time, to clear it. "I need time to
That choice, as are all others, is for you to make.
The dream fell away, like a switch being shut off, and I was standing
near the foot of my bed. For the briefest instant I thought I saw
something swirl into nothingness at the door, but perhaps it was my
I glanced at the clock and saw the numbers glowing three thirty-five.
A muffled sound seeped in from the living room indicating that Janice
still slept there.
I walked into the living room still in my underwear. Janice was
sprawled on the couch as she often was, on her side with one arm thrown
wide. Our white cat, Puss, looked up sleepily from his perch on the
couch back. I approached Janice and placed my right palm on her back,
and she stirred and moaned softly in response.
I don't know if the decision was conscious or not. I just walked out
to the garage and flipped on the light. The artifact was where I'd left
it, a little drier than before. It seemed to shift slightly beneath my
eyes, as if attempting to realize the form I'd first seen it assume in
my dream. A soft thrumming filled the air, and my touch sensed a
vibration. I remember thinking I'd need a hammer.
Then the vibration turned ugly. The world took a sudden dip to the
left, and my eyes fought to focus. The sound carried on the chill air
sounded like faint screams from a distance. I don't know if I really
heard it or not, but over the building roar I thought I heard the
voices of my children crying out in the night.
Dark wings flapped suddenly, and the light from the lone light bulb
dimmed as a shadow fell across me.
'He comes! As you love your life, as you love your family, decide well
"But what if I'm wrong? What if you're wrong?" I think I
'Then it is too late for all of us, replied Araquiel. For He is my God
and I am lost, as were you even before I first spoke to you.'
There was something both hideous and beautiful forming as it passed
through the very fabric of the walls of the garage. I didn't see it as
much as felt it, but it was both monstrously dark and still a source of
the most blinding light.
My hand found the clay artifact and lifted it to shoulder height. Twin
voices thundered in my head encouragement and a curse as I slammed my
hand down, smashing the brittle clay.
There was a whirl of light and shadow. For the briefest instant the
sweetest face I'd ever seen floated before my eyes. I heard a
tremendous howl of rage and anguish, as well as what I suspect was
'Ah, Sataniel! Oh, Lucien, my Brother!'
Then it was gone.
There was a huge thunderclap, and the entire house shook. I heard
screams, and tasted blood in my mouth as I bit my own tongue. I tried
to stand, but the roar of the thunder dragged on for an eternity and
threw me to the ground. I was blind and deaf. Something very hard
slammed into me, into my head.
Then I was in blackness.
I'm told, by men who seem to be in charge in some way (although I've
since forgotten who they are or why they visit me), that Janice will
probably be fine. They say she'll probably regain the use of her right
leg where the ceiling supports fell on her, and that she's already out
of intensive care. Cathy and Jim both, I'm also told, were
The house was totaled. As best as can be determined, the water heater
exploded and the gas lines caught fire. I was in the garage when it
happened, and crawled out through the collapsed outside wall. The kids
went out through Jim's window, just like they'd been shown to do. I'm
proud of them both.
Janice was rescued by the fire department. Frank was awakened by the
blast - so was most of the neighborhood - and called the police. I
thank - well, whatever is out there - for that. I owe him a debt for
Janice's life, probably.
I was hit by a falling timber, and got a pretty bad concussion. I
talked a lot while I was not quite here, and that lasted for a couple
of days. What the doctors heard didn't make them very happy. After they
talked with Janice, they were even less happy. I guess she must've told
them about Araquiel, even though they never asked about him by
Overall, I suppose I'm pretty satisfied. I mean, at least this has
forced me to be in the position of being able to see the doctors Janice
wanted me to see. There was some discussion that I might've been
responsible for the accident, but now that that's all cleared up Janice
has said she wants us to try again. Once the doctor's think I'm better,
I don't know how the explosion came about. Maybe there wasn't really
an explosion - at least not one caused by a water heater. Or, maybe
that explosion was secondary to what really happened in the house that
night. I've received no visitations in dreams or otherwise since then,
thankfully, so I can't say I have any answers from the experts. I'd
like to keep it that way.
What do I think happened? Well, Araquiel said that God made Man so
that he'd have a creature with the ability to choose. Only such a
creature could then choose not to believe in God, which would be the
beginning of the end of everything. That and a mix of some crucial
treasures God needed to make it work - call them ingredients. Araquiel
also said that some of the angels had taken these treasures inside of
themselves, then locked themselves within the very fabric of creation
so God couldn't find them, but sometimes things brought them to the
surface. Maybe that was what the box represented: One of the fallen
angels with the key to destruction.
I can only remember what I think Araquiel said when I'd smashed the
box and seen what looked like a beautiful being of light and shadow
emerge: Ah, Sataniel! Oh, Lucien, my Brother! I recall that Sataniel
was one of the Watchers mentioned in the text I'd captured on the
My guess is that the reason God couldn't commit suicide is that he
can't cause his own death. He also can't cause any kind of destruction,
which would lead, to his own death. That's why he needs Mankind. Call
it a rule he has to follow.
However you look at it, I have to believe I made the right choice. I
know that might be hard to swallow is you're a religious kind of
person, but that's the size of it. It's how I stay sane.
Anyway, the doctors said I needed "closure" before I began the healing
process. Writing all this down was one of the ways they mentioned, and
it seemed like a good idea. Most of it seems like a hazy dream right
now, and I'm not entirely sure I want to forget this. Maybe later, but
For now, I just want a dreamless sleep and a chance to redeem myself
with my family. Maybe now I'll get that chance.