AN: Welcome to the first chapter that really leads into the plot. I hope you enjoy!
CHAPTER FOUR: SINNERS
It was almost a week after Daniel left Chicago when things started to… change. Like he had told Rose and Shanna, he had taken to hitchhiking and catching a bus whenever possible. Greyhound had become his best friend. Daniel much preferred the anonymous buses over getting in cars and trucks with strangers.
But his luck ran out once again in the early evening when his current mode of transportation had to leave the interstate, so he was stuck somewhere along Interstate 79. All he knew for sure was that he was in West Virginia after clipping through Kentucky. And if he thought Chicago had harsh winter weather, he was so, so wrong after spending just a short amount of time in Kentucky and West Virginia. It was cold, the sky plentiful with thick, swirling crystals of snow. He hunched down into his coat, grip tightening around the handle of his travel bag as he wished he had bought gloves and perhaps a scarf. His hands, lower jaw, and neck were completely numb. The glare of headlights entered Daniel's vision and he instantly perked up, moving closer to the road and raising a hand, praying that they saw him through the blinding fall of white.
It was a small car, and to Daniel's dismay it blew right past him. His heart fell as he wondered if the occupant saw him, or if they were just ignoring his desperate plea for help.
An hour passed, perhaps two, before a pair of headlights finally pulled onto the shoulder. Daniel had given up even raising his arm after the first seven vehicles didn't acknowledge him. Walking through the snow became too exhausting, so he was finally just standing still, his arms crossed and bag dropped carelessly at his feet. He didn't think about freezing to death or how long he would stand there. He just knew he couldn't move anymore. Walking took too much energy, and so did sitting down.
So there he was, frozen in place, probably looking like a wild runaway, when the semi pulled up in front of him. At first his eyes didn't register the huge, rumbling metal contraption that was blocking his view of the highway, but when they did they widened but his feet didn't accept the signals from his brain telling him to step back.
The driver door to the vehicle swung open. Daniel couldn't see it since it was on the other side of the truck, but he could hear it just faintly amidst the roar of the winter storm. A harsh shiver wracked his frame and his muscles locked, making it impossible for him to do anything to get away, which was what his body was telling him. Flight or fight response not working, he was frozen in place as the man approached him. He was in a t-shirt and jeans, and was already shivering. Daniel didn't see until he was closer that he had slightly dark skin, inky black hair, and bright hazel eyes.
And that's when Daniel first noticed the 'change'. He couldn't see it as much as he sensed it; a strange colored glow around the man. It was like wisps of white and blue mingling among each other, hovering just above his skin and silhouette, caressing him like some sort of aura. Mesmerized, Daniel didn't even hear when he began to talk to him until a warm hand pressed against his forehead.
Daniel jolted, and just like that the sensation disappeared and he was a normal man once again. His mouth opened to respond, but his voice was stuck somewhere in his throat. A strange look came over the middle aged man's face, and he just nodded once as if in agreement and wrapped an arm around him, leading him to the truck.
His mind was as numb as his body at that point, and the next time he really became aware he was sitting in a leather seat with hot air blowing against his face from the vents in front of him, but he was still shivering violently. Music was playing softly in the background of the roar of the engine and hum of the heater, some sort of alternative rock by the riffs of the guitar and quaking voice of the singer.
A groan rose from his throat and the enormous truck swerved slightly.
"Kid? You awake?"
Just turning his head to look at him was exhausting but Daniel managed it and a weak nod. A hand touched his face again and he flinched from its iciness. Hadn't that hand been warm just a second ago?
"Oh thank god."
Faintly, his brain registered the man's Spanish accent and a smile tugged at his lips deliriously. Daniel loved all sorts of accents, but Spanish was his absolute favorite.
"Hey, stay with me here, alright? You've got a pretty bad fever. I'm taking you to the hospital."
Daniel groaned again and shook his head, pushing himself to sit up straighter and sucking in a sharp breath when a bone-throbbing ache ran through his body, striking his nerves like lightning. He had been sick before, extremely sick since he couldn't get good medicine on the streets, but this was horrible.
"No, I have to get to Morgantown."
But still, it didn't matter how sick he was. Daniel only had five days left before his deadline.
"Yeah." Daniel murmured, blinking through the haze so that he could see the man's face more clearly. He was definitely Hispanic, and had this kindness that surrounded him, "You know it?"
He nodded, "Sure do. It's on my doc sometimes. But that doesn't matter. You need to go to the hospital. Sulton should be just half an hour away now."
At those words Daniel peered out the windshield to see that it was still snowing, and that his was the only vehicle on this road at the moment. Mountains rose all around, just dim, looming shadows highlighted indistinctly by the moon. It was eerie, and something was twisting in his gut that the teenager didn't think was caused by the fever.
Something was definitely wrong.
Puzzled by the feeling, Daniel stayed silent. Not that that was difficult; he felt completely exhausted. He did have enough strength to turn to the man and smile,
A grin was returned as the man shook his head, eyes drifting from Daniel to the road intermittently, "It's no problem, really. I have a son your age. I don't know if you're running away or something, but I can tell you're a good kid. I couldn't just leave you out there in the cold. I'm Jose."
"Daniel," he murmured, completely forgetting about the false identity he had created while on the streets. The old name, his real name, came naturally after years of calling himself Damien, strangely enough.
The seconds bled into minutes, silence filled with the faint sound of the radio. The night was lit by a waxing moon, so Daniel could watch the mountains rising and falling as the semi moved along the curving road, but that still didn't staunch the low, thrumming anxiety that had began to build in him.
Before long it was rising to a crescendo, making his heart beat fast and loud against his ribs. He began to take deep breaths, wondering if this was a panic attack, and had just opened his mouth to tell Jose to stop the truck, when a woman suddenly appeared on the road.
It was as if she was a ghost, one moment she wasn't there and the next she was.
Everything happened too fast after that. Jose cursed loudly, and the shriek of shuddering brakes entered Daniel's ears, threatening to burst through his eardrums. The semi fishtailed in the snow and ice, throwing Daniel's body against the passenger door and holding him there from the momentum of the swerve. The woman remained standing there, smiling, naked but apparently not feeling the cold.
There was a heart-wrenching moment when the impact of the two-ton trailer hit the guardrail that overlooked the steep mountain's side, and the sound of screaming metal echoed through the night. Jose's hands gripped the wheel frantically, pulling it hard to the left. His throat closed around a scream of warning, but it was too late.
The wheels gripped the road and the semi overcorrected, the trailer groaning and turning onto its side as the truck shot across the road and into the mountainside. All Daniel knew was the abruptness of dark when the headlights crushed against the vertical mountain wall, the piercing sound of breaking glass, and a sharp twist of pain driving into his leg.
Whiplash cracked his neck forward and then back when the semi finally stopped moving. Mind and body in shock, he didn't move for many long seconds.
"Jose?" he croaked, confused when pain branched out from his chest at the sound. His eyes opened- he hadn't even realized he'd closed them- and travelled down, to see a sliver of glass imbedded under his collar bone. As soon as he saw that, the burning agony hit him and he gasped, body locking as new, undiscovered wounds made themselves clear.
Daniel tried to focus through the haze of red, pushing away the black inkiness that was threatening to take his vision and mind, turning his eyes to the left, towards the driver side.
He almost laughed in relief when he saw that Jose was still there. Somehow, in Daniel's mind, he had pictured the cab's frame ripped apart. No, it was still intact, if just barely. Daniel leaned over to touch him, to try and wake him since his eyes were closed and his body was collapsed against the steering wheel, and sucked in a sharp breath when lightning sparked in his leg.
His hand immediately clapped to the spot he felt the pain, and he was confused when his skin met cold metal. He looked back down and had to swallow the wave of nausea that hit him. When the semi hit the incline, it must have buckled the passenger door completely; all that was left was a crumple of metal trying to accommodate the crushed frame. A piece of the door had ripped in towards Daniel, and had skewered his leg through the thigh.
"Jose!" he called desperately, praying his voice would wake him. It didn't.
"I can hear his heart beating. He's not dead… yet."
Daniel's head jerked back around, to the open space where there used to be a window in the broken door. The woman from before was standing there, resting bare, folded forearms on the side of the truck. She was beyond beautiful with feathery bleach-blonde hair, slightly tan skin, long black eyelashes, and full red lips that quirked into a steady, predatory smile.
But her eyes were completely black. There were no whites, no iris, no pupil, just onyx pools. Strange black tattoos trailed down her left cheek, continuing to wind all over her naked body.
Her head tilted, chin jutting forward as she addressed Daniel once more, "Hello? Kid? I'm talking to you, idiot."
Voice broken and words lost, Daniel could only stare at her with wide eyes. Her smile faded a bit and she hoisted herself up so that she was somehow sitting cross-legged on the bowed remnants of the door. He averted his gaze from her nudity, focusing on her coal-black eyes.
That's when he noticed the crimson-red horns and… tail.
Her eyebrows lifted when she noticed where Daniel was looking, and a vicious smile took over her expression, drawing the plump lips over ivory teeth, dragging his unwilling attention to the sharp canines that were twice the natural length.
"So, you can see me, huh?"
The way she said it implied that 'me' meant her horns, eyes, teeth, and tail. Daniel couldn't respond if he wanted to. His heart was stuck in his throat and blood roared in his ears so loudly that he was dizzy. If he was questioning his sanity before, there was no doubt now.
'I'm crazy. A nutcase. A lunatic. There's no way I'm sitting here, post-accident, seeing a monster that looks like beauty personified.'
"Good," she continued on, thin tail swishing behind her. It had three sharp thorns near the end of the pointed tip, like tiny blades meant to flay and rend flesh from the bone. Daniel really didn't want that appendage anywhere near him, "perhaps you can help me out, little angel. I'm looking for a few… friends of mine. They're bad little boys and girls, ran away from home, which of course broke my father's dear heart."
She leaned forward menacingly, eyes flashing, making the ravenette recoil as much as he could, leaning far away from her.
"You wouldn't happen to have seen them, have you? My little brothers and sisters? An odd bunch, you wouldn't have missed them."
"N-no," he stuttered, voice high and cracking with panic and fear, "I haven't seen 'em, I swear!"
"Really?" she cooed, a pout on her lips, "That's just too bad. Oh well. At least I have a midnight snack now."
Her tongue flicked out, running across her sharp teeth as she looked from Daniel to Jose and back, "So, would you rather be eaten first and be spared the sight of me consuming your unconscious friend there, or vice versa? I must tell you that I take a little while to eat my meals. It gets messy when I go fast."
The blood drained from Daniel's face and her voice echoed in his ears.
'Eat us? She's going to eat us? What the hell is she?'
The woman-monster-thing waited a few seconds before shrugging and grinning, "Okay. I guess I'll let you watch me eat your friend there. Who knows? If you're lucky, you'll bleed out before I can start on you."
She dropped from the window and began loping around the front of the truck, climbing over the top of the crushed hood like some sort of acrobat, her lithe body having no trouble finding purchase and momentum to push herself over. It was like gravity didn't have control over her.
"Stop! Don't!" was all Daniel managed to shout when she made it to the left side of the truck. His cries went unheeded, and horribly, amazingly, she somehow pulled the driver side door right off of its crippled frame. The sound of rending metal sent yet another stab through Daniel's ears, making him wince even as the same single-syllable pleas broke from his throat in sobs.
The monster tore the steering wheel away with a simple twist of her wrists and caught Jose's head in her hands in the next second. Daniel was trapped and could only watch in revulsion and dread as she threw a long, cream-smooth leg over his prone body so that she was straddling his hips in some mockery of a loving embrace.
Sultry red lips caressed his face, neck, and shoulders in faux kisses, when he finally began to stir. Daniel didn't know whether to be relieved or sorry that he was awake. He wasn't as injured as Daniel as far as the ravenette could tell, maybe he could fight her off. Blinked rapidly, he began to take in what he was seeing, which was a naked woman perched in his lap. His eyes blew wide open, and he jerked back as he shouted in surprise.
She didn't even let the rest of it leave his lips. She swooped down and her lips closed onto his neck. Daniel could hear the skin tearing as those unnatural fangs sank into his throat.
Daniel prayed with all his heart, pleaded with any deity out there, that the monster would disappear.
But she didn't.
Minutes passed, in which the teenager had to turn his eyes away from the scene beside him, tears running down his face. After he started coming to terms with his shock he began to quietly attempt to get the metal shard out of his leg.
It seemed impossible; every time he even tried to push his leg to the left, where there was only an inch or two of blood-stained shattered metal, fire and shock hit him so hard that a jolt of dizziness threatened to wash him under. The black spots in his eyes had become permanent, but not extremely hindering. The fog that was thickening in his head was the problem.
But he kept clenching his teeth and trying again. Agonizing seconds blurred into excruciating minutes, until he had lost all track of time. The warmth of the blood running over his working hands had faded as the cold finally swept in and sucked away all the vestiges of heat from the truck.
It was freezing, he was seeing black, and the pain finally began to ebb as his body went into fastening shock. He was sure that this was death coming for him, and the figure that appeared outside his broken window attested to the fact. Daniel had no idea when he had arrived, but there he was. A younger boy with ink-black hair that hid his eyes. He was tiny in size, barely being able to stand on his tiptoes on the bent frame to lean inside the cab slightly.
"Semiazas." His voice was like honey whiskey, and a memory flittered through Daniel's mind of a time that Alex had given him that liquor. It had made Daniel warm while they sprawled over each other in an alley, trying to share their body heat as night descended. Alex had merrily helped Daniel drink from the bottle since his hands were frozen, giving up after a while to just help Daniel drink it by holding it in his own mouth and transferring it to mine through kisses. Daniel could almost taste those fiery, honey kisses.
Daniel didn't look at her when he heard her voice snapping back at Boy Death. He was too scared to see what had become of Jose, what would surely become of him soon enough,
"The Ishim are near. We must go."
"The Ishim, huh? Interesting."
A hand touched his face, and Daniel opened the eyes he hadn't meant to close to see that the 'Semiazas' monster was now climbing over him. She had paused long enough to place an icy palm on his cheek. Her deep black eyes were forever ingrained in his mind as she leaned in and planted a tiny kiss on his lips.
Smirking in a way that petrified Daniel, she winked, flipped off of his lap and through the window, and called back with a wave, "I'll see you later, little angel!"
With that, both of them were gone. The Monster and Boy Death. Daniel's head dropped back against the still-intact headrest of his seat and a trembling sigh left his lips, followed closely by a tortured inhalation. The blackness finally crept over him thickly, stealing away the last remnants of strength he'd been holding onto since the wreck.
Just as his consciousness was failing, he heard a squeal of brakes on wet asphalt, and many voices shouting and calling at once as doors opened and slammed. A warm hand touched Daniel's cheek- the opposite of where Monster had caressed his skin- and the scent of cigarettes and sunlight filled his senses, along with a deep growl of a voice.
The name spun around the darkness, unfamiliar to him even as the sound of it kept waxing and waning in a constant, chant-like rhythm. Daniel's own lips eventually started to form around the word, but he couldn't feel the muscles and tendons that should have been moving, and when he breathed he didn't feel the chest that should have been rising or the throat that should have been pulling in the oxygen.
he was weightless, unshackled from the burdens of a wearisome, dense body made of flesh and bone. He was the sky and the stars and the wind all at once.
"Daniel," said the voice once again, a deep reverberation that echoed through the free buoyancy of this paradise, "come here. Come to me, Daniel."
Instinctively he wanted to wince, to wrinkle his brow in confusion. And just as he thought the action, he could feel it. Daniel opened his eyes slowly, carefully peering out. The dark and the cosmos had been in his head all along. Gray and white light stung his pupils as he winced and took a shaky step forward. The voice paused in its urging, but he could feel the steady hum of it, influencing his feet to keep walking in some random direction through the blank ashen and dullness. It was like a snow storm had joined up with a thunder storm, and he was lost in the midst of them.
Soon enough though, a golden glow appeared ahead. As he approached and it became larger, he felt the rejuvenating, comforting heat radiating from some unknown source.
Finally he could almost see the silhouette of a figure within the gold, but it was like looking into the sun, he could only stare at some point near the person, out of the direct light. Just letting his eyes wander to the most central gold spot caused them to burn and water like acid had been poured into them.
"Who're you?" Daniel asked loudly, unsure if the buzzing was just in his ears or in the stranger's as well.
"I am many who's, love." Came the smiling, somewhat cold response, "But you may call me Raphael. I am here to instate you."
"Instate?" Tasting the word on his tongue, Daniel could feel a little trill go down his spine when the glow began to dissipate some. He could now see that the figure was definitely male, and that he had long hair that flowed around his hips and knees like a cape of rose gold.
"Yes, child. You have been chosen, and as sanctioned to me by one higher than myself, I am to be the one that releases your soul so that you will be able to grow to your full spiritual potential. Do you understand, Daniel?"
'Hell no,' Daniel wanted to say, but his head just nodded. It was as if someone else was controlling his movements. When the man held out a hand palm-up, his own fingers curled into the invitation. He didn't try to lead Daniel away. Instead, his body moved closer to his so that they were standing nearly toe-to-toe. With his left hand, in which his right hand was enclosed, he pressed his knuckles against his forehead, diagonally, like he was checking his temperature. He took his left hand with his other and pressed his palm against his burning chest. As soon as his palm touched his flesh, light burst out from the contact, making his eyes snap closed once again. Daniel wanted to pull back, to scream, to collapse into himself- because even though this wasn't painful, it was overwhelming in every sense of the word- but he stood rod-straight. Burning fingertips glided across his own chest before a large palm pressed down.
It was over right then and there. He could feel everything that he was burst from the contact. It wasn't a physical sensation, more like some third part- between his heart and his mind- had been ripped open and revealed to the open air, too tender and raw to withstand the harshness of the world.
The hand just kept pressing though, and mine did the same to him, creating some sort of backwards channel of energy. Daniel could feel it. The sparks and rivulets of light and… purity, pulsing from his chest to his hand, up his arm, through his other arm, to his head, and back down to that one spot again. It was a continuous circle, but Daniel could feel something steadily branching off within him, cutting and curling towards his heart, reaching out tendrils of energy to wrap around the aching and pounding organ.
It seemed like an eternity passed, then another, before something significant changed. The power reached his heart and light blossomed there, stronger than anything he had ever felt. A gasp ripped at his throat and tears sprang to his eyes, his body's desperate attempt at relieving the pressure in his chest. But nothing helped. The feeling just grew stronger and stronger until he was screaming, unable to wrench himself away from Raphael's grip.
Screams grew to broken shrieks and pleas of mercy that went ignored. Two eternities turned into twelve, fifteen, one hundred, until Daniel felt as old as the stars themselves, and indeed felt different as well.
It was like he had been born anew.
He finally released Daniel, and with the loss of pain his voice instantly died. He collapsed onto his knees in the strange white and gray and gold wonderland of light, breathing in ragged gasps and the tiniest of whimpers.
"I have cleansed you and prepared you," Raphael announced emotionlessly as he reached down to hoist Daniel up by the arm. Daniel grunted at the movement, unable to put sounds into words at the moment, "goodbye and good luck, Daniel."
Without warning, Daniel was shoved back and his eyes widened when he caught sight of a glint of silver through the glow surrounding Raphael. He stumbled, tripping over his feet and nearly falling.
With a jerk of Raphael's arm, a long silvery lance came streaking towards Daniel. He froze in disbelief not seconds before the weapon pierced through his chest and out the other side. It went straight through, and Daniel hadn't felt a thing. He turned to look behind him for the fallen weapon, but it wasn't there.
Raphael's hand touched his back and he tried to jerk back around, but was held immobile as the man's other hand caressed one point between his shoulder blades. Again, his body had fallen to obeying this man's whims and once more melted into putty in his hands.
He apparently found what he was looking for, and grabbed a hold of whatever it was through his skin. Daniel yelped at the pinch, but didn't move.
He wasn't ready for the agony that came next.
Raphael pulled with all his might- which had to be a lot since he was most certainly superhuman- and the sound of ripping skin echoed through the space, drowning out even the hum in the background for a moment. And then his shrieks were drowning out everything, resounding over and over again as he drew the thing farther out of Daniel, yanking and pulling as gently as he could.
Daniel couldn't think beyond the sound of his own screams. There was only the feel, the need, the focus of stopping the pain, getting away. He would do anything for it to stop. At this point, he would gladly die.
He let Daniel go many long, long eternities later, not even attempting to catch him when he collapsed backwards.
The ground didn't catch him either. Instead, he fell, and fell, and fell, through the white and gray and blue and gold. Sensation began to return, just barely. Daniel could feel the cold of the air, the wind rushing by him.
His eyes blinked and he tried to move his aching body, but gravity was pressuring him too much for his weak muscles to handle. Sucking in a breath, he scanned ahead of him, wherever that was, and blinked again when wetness hit his eyes. Abruptly, the gray and white disappeared and he was staring down at the earth.
He had been falling through the clouds, and was now hurtling towards the surface of the planet at god-knows-how-many miles per hour. Daniel choked on his breath, heart hitting his chest roughly, making him cry out at just that tiny movement. His insides were against him now, apparently.
The way the ground approached so quickly was what was most frightening. When he couldn't see either horizon anymore, the panic and realization finally hit him. The second it did, some separate part of him, muscles he never knew he had before, bent out and back, stretching. He yelled out in surprise when his momentum slowed a bit, and he hesitantly peered to his right and left, to see the tips of translucent gold and blue and white… somethings, arcing above his body.
They didn't stop motion altogether, though, and Daniel was still falling, if at a more comfortable pace. He experimented, urging the muscles to move this way and that, to make the somethings spread wide or beat at the air. It took a lot of mental and physical strain, but he was just beginning to get the hang of it when he truly began to plummet, and there was no way the somethings could save him now.
Daniel screamed when a house became too, too close, barely noticing when he passed right through the roof. He did see, however, the body laying in one of the beds, because of one important fact.
It was himself.
He hit and it was like being pushed through a wall of rubber; he went in, stuck, and something snapped. He fully expected to snap back, but instead, his eyes snapped open and he was staring at the ceiling.
Daniel blinked, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and exhaled. Then the teenager turned over in the bed and let his body relax. He didn't care that he had no idea where he was. He didn't care that he had no idea what had just happened. He didn't care.
He just wanted to sleep.
AN: Okay, I really hope I didn't confuse you guys completely. This chapter held three signatures that I put in every story I write (the car accident, falling unconscious, aaaand... well, the third one's a secret. Wookie points to anyone that figures it out). ;)
ScarletRose7865: Thanks again for reviewing. I hope you enjoyed this chapter.
CuriosityConcept: Wow, a dedicated anonymous viewer. I'm flattered that you've reviewed every chapter so far. Thank you so much! :)
Leech Lester: I know it's not quite, erm, 'action', but I hope you enjoyed!
Avox 17 - For Four: Thanks again! I REALLY hope you liked this, since it's of your interest as well. Most of the things in this chapter is very loosely based on the Hebrew texts I'm studying as well (the purification of the soul by a higher angel). So there's some of my research ingrained right there. Plus the demons. Can you guess who 'Sammy' is? ;D
THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH! See you next chapter!
Reconstructed Version Posted On March 25, 2013