End of Days Page 80

The smoke takes shape into the Pit lord we fought in hell.

He looks worse than I remember. Although the pieces I sliced have grown back, his wings still look like old charred leather, now covered in layers of scars. There’s a new chunk missing out of one wing, and he has a gnarled gash through his lips that makes him look like he has two mouths.

He leans over to Raffe in midair as the Watchers bristle and form a protective line near Raffe.

After that, I can’t watch anymore. The sixers are attacking around me.

For a while, I’m lost in the screams and sprays of blood from the massacre. Bullets fly everywhere, but I don’t have time to worry if I’ll get hit by a stray as I slash at a sixer’s head with everything I’ve got.

The screams intensify. At first, I assume people are getting slaughtered. But there’s something about the pitch that sounds inhuman.

The sixer that I’m fighting suddenly gets hit with three whip heads.

I have to blink to make sure I’m seeing what I’m seeing. Are those the Consumed whip heads from the Pit? I look around, trying to see what’s going on.

Under the spotlights, the shiny sea is covered with the Consumed propelling through the bay. They converge on the sixers that are still in the water.

Heads shoot up out of the water, screaming with their razor hair shooting out in front of them.

Their teeth latch onto the sixer in front of me and immediately begin chewing their way in.

The sixer writhes in pain, trying to scrape off the heads. More land on its shoulder and burrow.

Everywhere, the sixers are being attacked by whip heads. They’re ignoring the people around them as we huddle in the center.

I look up. The Pit lord with the charred wings looks down at us with a satisfied look on his face. He’s very pleased with himself.

Beside him, Raffe watches me. I can’t read his expression. What did he do to make this happen?

‘Are you all right?’ he shouts.

I nod. I’m covered in blood and cut up, but I can’t even feel the pain, not with all this adrenaline flowing through me.

All around, the whip heads are chewing their way out of the sixers. The sixers’ living heads are being chewed off and are thudding to the concrete. In their place, the whip heads sprout, taking over the bodies.

Their screams turn into shrill laughter. Mad. Intense. Gleeful.

The possessed sixers lumber off the bridge and into the water.

It occurs to me that if the real apocalypse ever starts, these Consumed sixers might come back from the bloody sea as the real beasts of the apocalypse.

68

‘A pair of archangel wings and a new army,’ says the Pit lord.

‘What have you done?’ Uriel flies over to Raffe. ‘Do you know how hard—’

Raffe whips his sword across Uriel with intense fury. Uriel barely manages to get his own sword up to block, but he gets hurled by the force of Raffe’s blow.

Uriel tumbles out of the sky, landing hard on the bridge.

He staggers up, bleeding and holding his shoulder. It looks crushed. Before he can regain balance, a crowd of people rush him.

A woman slaps him, screaming about her children. Then another comes and kicks him. ‘That’s for my Nancy.’ She kicks Uriel harder. ‘That’s for little Joe.’

Another person jumps in and begins wailing on him as a fourth runs up and begins plucking his feathers. After that, Uriel disappears under a mob of angry humans.

Feathers fly. Blood spurts. Knives slash up and down in the spotlights as arms pump, covered in blood.

Everything else has stopped – the music is off, the lights stay on, the angels have stopped fighting, and the Consumed sixers have quieted.

There’s only the eerie glow of the spotlights beaming in every direction and Uriel’s screams.

The angels look confused, unsure of what to do next. Maybe if Uriel’s supporters had actually been loyal and cared about him, as opposed to following him because of what he could do for them, maybe they would risk themselves to save him. But before the uncertain angels can make a move, the crowd over Uriel begins to disband.

Several people hold up grisly parts of him as trophies. Bloody feathers, clumps of hair, a finger, and other parts too bloody to recognize.

Okay, maybe we’re not the most civilized beings in the universe, but then, who is?

69

‘I’ve fulfilled my end of the bargain, Archangel,’ says the Pit lord. His burned wings sweep back and forth lazily in the air. ‘I saved your pitiful Daughter of Man and her family. Now it’s your turn.’

Raffe hovers on his beautiful feathered wings in front of the Pit lord. He nods with a grim expression.

‘No.’ The word slips out of my mouth as I watch, mesmerized.

Two hellions with black axes fly in from the dark outside the spotlights. Their axes are stained with layers of old blood. They position themselves behind either side of Raffe’s wings.

There’s a moment when I think Raffe will come up with a way out of this as he stares down the Pit lord.

Then he gives a single nod.

Without warning, the two hellions simultaneously lift their axes and slice through Raffe’s wing joints.

They lift their axes and slice through Raffe’s wing joints.

They lift their axes and slice through Raffe’s wing joints.

They lift their axes and slice through Raffe’s wing joints.

They . . .

. . . his wings . . .

I don’t know if Raffe yells out in his pain, because all I hear is my own scream.

Prev Next