Chapter 1, Hand of an Unknown Angel
The story of Lucifer begins with an index finger found in the mountains of body parts in First Heaven. Unlike the other dead appendages that obscure the landscape, countless in number, this severed finger crawled out alive with a will and purpose. No one knows who it once belonged to. The dead bodies in First Heaven usually belong to criminals, rebels and heretics from the higher heavens. Those angels unfortunate enough to live here only do so out of poverty.
There was a large black market for trading body parts, and there was high demand. Everyone who lived here was either missing body parts, or knew someone who did. Angels with missing wings, arms, legs, eyes were a part of everyday life. Angels with no faces. Angels with no skin. Angels that seem normal, but have no stomach or heart. Entering the higher Heavens required a perfect spiritual body, and that could be expensive.
The one-winged angel Michelle knew she had found something valuable when she discovered the living finger. She sold the finger to a merchant for a wing to replace her missing one. The merchant was a young doctor named Rachel, enamored with her unprecedented scientific discovery.
She found a hand that operated under the finger’s will when they were attached. Now autonomous, the hand began wandering the streets at night, killing angels and bringing them back to Rachel’s lab. Unsettling rumors of a murderous, disembodied hand began to spread throughout First Heaven.
After finding an appropriate arm and torso, Rachel set out to make a composite body for her mysterious, living finger. She had to do something with the material she was being supplied with, anyway. As desperate as she was to survive, she knew better than to sell the body parts of high-profile murder victims.
She wondered whether the hand was trying to help her or merely satisfy its bloodlust. She wanted to know if it was conscious of itself. Did it feel emotion? How “alive” was it?
After a few weeks of work, the composite body was nearly complete. It only lacked one important element – a head. An undamaged head was one of the rarest body parts you could find. None of the murder victims had good looking faces, but they were undamaged, and it was becoming very tempting to sell them. She needed a black market dealer she could trust with her secret. Someone who could resell the goods without getting caught.
There was no use trying to sell them on First Heaven’s black market. Her only option was to smuggle them into Second Heaven, and sell them there in exchange for a good looking face.
She shrunk the heads in a magic elixir, mixed them into a bag of apples, and boarded a train to Second Heaven that night.
“I’ve got a good deal for you here, Neil. Seven undamaged heads from First Heaven. All I want is one good-looking head in return.”
Her old partner Neil studied them. “Yes, this is quite a deal. You could have simply put them on ice for a year and sold them when the heat dies down. It would have been less dangerous and more profitable for you. What’s the rush?”
Neil had reason to be suspicious. He knew Rachel from her years as a young nurse. He had seen the experiments that led to her fall from grace. She told him about the index finger, and the composite body she had built.
Neil seemed concerned. “You should be careful when awakening this angel. You’ve made one body out of many different people. You don’t know how many selves may come alive from the body parts. The brain might be overwhelmed. He may have split personalities. You are getting into uncharted territory here.”
Rachel smiled. “I can take care of myself. How fast can you get me a head?”
Neil paused. “By tomorrow, if you are willing to help.” Then he seemed to change the subject. “I have some information you may be interested in. One of my rivals has acquired the body of a cherub.”
Cherubim are elite political leaders rarely seen outside of Sixth Heaven. Rachel nearly dropped one of the heads.
“He plans to sell one of the wings tomorrow, and I intend to stop him. That’s when I’ll have your head for you. Maybe more, if I can get the cherub’s body.”
“But I thought Cherubim were impossible to kill?” Rachel asked. “They are.” Neil replied. “Even if you cut them up and sell them in parts, they remain alive.” He continued. “I want you to lead me to my rival’s hideout by offering to buy one of the wings. It’ll be dangerous-”
Rachel cut him off. “They remain alive in parts? What do you mean?”
Neil almost smiled. “That’s why you may want to look at one of them up close. I suspect the finger you found may have belonged to a cherub, not an ordinary angel.”
Chapter 2, Streets of Magdalene
“What could he possibly want in exchange for a cherub’s wing?” Rachel asked herself.
Rachel strolled through the east side of Avondale, a city in Second Heaven. There you could find many book stores, which sold potions and magic spells forbidden in the higher heavens. Shady grey-winged dealers sold drugs in the back alleys. Junkies returned here night after night, slowly rotting away or selling their body parts until there was nothing left of them.
The houses were made of brick and blackened wood. The road was painted crimson. She was now walking through the Magdalene quarters, where you could buy any man or woman for the right price. Across the river were the homes of many reputable people in Avondale. Thanks to the influence of their courtesans, this area of town was policed to protect the prostitutes from violence.
But this customer did not want Rachel’s body for sex.
“He wants a new pair of wings”, she recalled what Neil said to her earlier. “Offer to trade him your false wings. I’ll be watching from above.”
Angels acquire new wings for many reasons. Some grow unhealthy and need to be replaced. Some turn dull and grey from sin. Some are even branded after criminal acts. Rachel, like many angels, wore a pair of false wings and kept her real ones safe at home. It didn’t protect them from sin, but it did protect them from thieves, dirt and bloodstains.
Rachel met Neil’s rival for the first time in a bar called Pistis Sophia, named for the bride of God. Rachel identified the man by the unique red-grey pattern of his wings. He introduced himself as Val. Rachel studied his face while he wasn’t looking, imagining how it would look on the composite body. Val had a handsome, young face. She decided she liked it.
Rachel was surprised to learn that Val was once a doctor himself. Over the course of their conversation, Rachel learned Val also experimented with surgical procedures. He showed Rachel a cherub’s feather and promised to show her the body. The feather shined green like an emerald. Val insisted they leave quickly to complete the transaction. He led her through one back alley after another.
Suddenly, she felt a sharp blow to the head and was thrust back against the wall.
Neil lied to her. Val had no interest in her angel wings. Rachel struggled as he tried to tear her clothes off. Val’s face now looked at her with wild eyes. She struck him in the ear and took flight. He spread his wings and took after her. She led him back to the Pistis Sophia.
Then a shot rang out and Val fell from the sky. Two more shots followed. Neil had been waiting from a nearby rooftop. Val was shot in the chest. He staggered away as Neil leaped to the ground. A small crowd was already gathering outside the bar. Neil followed Val into the darkness.
Rachel initially resisted chasing them, but then remembered she still needed a severed head – whether it belonged to Val or Neil. She also needed to escape the eyes of the growing crowd, so she plunged into the darkness. She slowed down once she saw Val’s long trail of blood through the streets. Neil was certainly counting on Val to return to his hideout to recover. She made sure to keep her distance as she followed Neil.
The trail of blood led to an ominous two-story mansion. After entering and passing through the main hall unannounced, she stumbled onto something horrific. On a surgical table laid the cherub’s body, dissected into parts. The head was missing, but the rest was meticulously arranged. Five fingers laid next to a hand. Five toes laid next to a foot. The body was infantile in size.
The fingers twitched. Each severed limb breathed. The cherub was still alive. But was he alive as a whole, or only in parts? Could they be brought back together? Presumably the head was still alive – wherever it was. The cherub had a magnificent green aura, and it’s beauty was difficult to turn away from. But soon she became even more intrigued by the surgical tools than the cherub. Rachel had never seen tools so complex and durable. Then it clicked. Her suspicions were confirmed by the medals on the wall.
Val was a veteran of Michael’s army.
Doctors that serve under Archangel Michael deal with unfathomable amounts of bloodshed, and often go insane. They are also the only angels besides Raphael allowed to operate on Cherubim. What was a veteran doing all the way down in Second Heaven? And who is the cherub?
Despite being confronted by extremely rare body parts, Rachel still just wanted a head with a handsome face. She didn’t care who it belonged to any more. She continued following the blood trail upstairs.
Chapter 3, Vital Signs
Soon, the trail of blood became a trail of smoke. There was a fire spreading through the building. Rachel found Neil and Val fighting in a room on the second floor, as Val defended himself with firestarter techniques. He was going to burn the whole place down and take Neil with him. Rachel’s heart sank at the thought of their bodies burning up in the fire. Then, remembering the cherub, she dashed back downstairs.
The cherub’s body parts were thankfully small enough to fit into her satchel. The head was still missing, and she feared it may go up in the fire as well. Before Rachel could look at this strange tools, the smoke began to spread. She wondered who won the battle upstairs. She ran out of the building, and continued running down the street. She watched over her shoulder as an inferno consumed the entire house.
After pausing for a breath, Rachel screamed in frustration. Her old friend Neil not only lied to her, but sent her out to help him kill a veteran. On the other hand, Val attacked her and probably intended to kill her. She didn’t know whose head she wanted more, but it seemed she would be getting none. She left Second Heaven with the cherub’s body parts, in exchange for the seven heads she brought.
After examining the cherub up close, she wondered how valuable it would be on the market. The small body parts could not be worn by anyone older than children. They were all alive and breathing, despite being detached from the lungs. Cherubim were said to be a superior breed of angels, but in reality their bone structure looked very different. The wings were tiny and asymmetrical. Was this the result of the genetic deformities that often occur in their procreation?
Sex was forbidden by God, but because of the low rate of genetic deformity among ordinary angels, only a vocal minority considered it to be taboo. The Cherubim on the other hand could not breed at all, and had to rely entirely on Sophia to create each generation. Sex was the only activity in heaven that ordinary angels could enjoy while Cherubim could not. It was undoubtedly a great source of tension between the two species.
In any case, Neil’s guess was incorrect. The finger she originally found was not that of a cherub.
Experimenting on young angels was one line she was not prepared to cross. She decided to soak the parts in a highly corrosive liquid in order to kill the cherub. She could dye them the color of angel skin to hide the brilliant emerald glow, and sell them to a pediatrician. She checked the parts regularly until they were no longer breathing. She could sell them if she ever became desperate.
Between Neil and Val, who won the battle in the end? Rachel received the answer a few weeks later. Neil mailed her a bag of apples – inside was Val’s shrunken head.
Rachel was elated. Now she finally had the final piece to her puzzle, and a glimmer of hope for awakening her creation. She placed Val’s head in a mixture to return it to normal size, then sewed it onto the composite body. She attached the living hand to the left arm, and she checked for vital signs.
The lungs breathed. The heart was beating. His hands became warm. But his eyes would not open. The brain scan showed he was in a deep REM sleep. He was dreaming about something. She opened the dream scanner, and decided to look inside his brain.
She was not prepared for what she was about to see.
She saw the slums of First and Second Heaven rising up to wage war. She saw the cities of Third and Fourth Heaven in ruin. She saw mountains of fresh corpses, angels killing angels in battle, and Michael’s army in retreat. She saw Michael begging for his life. She saw Sixth Heaven in flames, and the Cherubim running for their lives. She saw the gates to Seventh Heaven being broken.
Then the dream scanner crashed. Rachel hastily turned it back on.
That’s when she saw him. He and many other angels were fighting in the night sky. Each one that died fell down into the sea. His true face shone like a beam of light, and she could not make out the features. His black wings swallowed up the stars behind him. Rachel realized she was watching the many consciousnesses inside the composite body as they fought for dominance.
Rachel closed the dream scanner. In her heart, she knew she was bringing something terrible into this world. She could stop it right now if she wished.
She thought about certain fundamental “truths” of their world. “God created all angels equally.” “Cherubim were superior to angels.” “If angels were pious and obedient, they could become Cherubim and rise to Sixth Heaven.” “Archangel Michael was the strongest of all angels, and served the Cherubim.” These were truths every angel learned as a child.
As long as the seven archangels were allied with the cherubim, ordinary angels would always be oppressed. With the protection of Michael’s army, the ruling political class of Cherubim could get away with anything. Someone had to challenge Michael’s army for the sake of all angels. But was that anything more than just a dream?
“Cherubim were superior to angels.” They lived wealthier and closer to God, but what made them superior? The first one she encountered looked like a deformed monster. Why would an angel want to become that? What happened to “God created all angels equally”? And if none of that were true, how could she believe that Archangel Michael was the strongest of all angels?
Rachel watched through the dream scanner, as the Angel of Light fought to be the last one in the air. He was surrounded by hundreds on every side – one for every body part she used. He cut through the crowd with his blade, and the giant cluster of angels slowly rained down into the sea. She couldn’t watch. She closed the dream scanner.
It wouldn’t be long before he finally awakens. She wanted to pray, but didn’t know who to pray to anymore. So she prayed to the Angel of Light himself, that he might become her savior. She prayed for him to be the savior of all angels, and to free them from the Cherubim’s dictatorship. She prayed for his dream to come true, for Michael to be slain, and for the gates of Seventh Heaven to open for him.
But above all, she prayed he would not kill her when he awakens.
Written: April-May 2016
Released: May 6, 2016