I am not, in fact, doing fine. My brains feel like they have been shoved in a blender on high for a good half an hour with some assorted drink mix. Kezef meant to scare the piss out of me, and I will admit he succeeded admirably.

I slept for a little while, but the nightmares are there waiting for me. Demons aren't supposed to have nightmares, let alone sleep. It says so right in the handbook. There is no denying it though, I have been having them. The dreams sit there waiting for me when I close my eyes.

To keep from sleeping, I was biting my lip. Now there is blood everywhere. I shouldn't need to do this, but the doctors pumped my vessel full of drugs and they make me want to curl up into a coma.

When the drowsiness started, I got up and dragged myself to the little sterile bathroom here to get a little toilet paper and clean up the blood and try the old splash the water on the face trick. I stared at myself in the mirror for a good long time. I'm a mess. I'm not pretty. The eyes staring back at me are haunted, frightened, and confused. We Lilim are supposed to be pretty, happy, fun, loveable little creatures who deliver sex on demand. I'm none of those things, because someone took a sledgehammer to my face.

I used to be. When was the last time? I can't remember. I just know there was a time I was pleased to serve and pick up favors and have a good time. I just can't put my finger on when last I really felt like that. Before Eli? After? When the Boss was still around? Does it even matter?

So now I'm back in bed, playing with the remote control, because fucking Terry wasn't considerate enough to snag me a book, let alone my cigarettes. Demons. You just gotta hate them, they're so god damned annoying.

"...Today in Saginaw, well known comedian and playwright, Daimon Lightner, age 27, was recovered from apparent kidnappers from an abandoned warehouse in Saginaw, north on US-23 after being missing without a trace for over a month. Lightner disappeared on April 6th of this year, after being attacked at the MGM/Grand in Las Vegas by several unknown assailants, an attack which led to the death of comedienne Mara Smythe and the injury of several bystanders. He is being held for observation at St. Mary's Hospital...."


"... I say it was UFOs!" the witness being billed on the bottom of the screen as Jeff Montgomery from the State Police said, as he pushed his ball cap back farther on his head. "We saw lights, and some big monster, and goddamn that guy just up and disappeared, like offa Star Trek. Considering all the bizarre things we've seen in these parts the last few weeks, I wouldn't be surprised. If aliens are gonna land anywhere, I'd say it would be here. We have all sorts of freaks and weirdos around, so who would notice?"


"... of the other individuals inside the warehouse during today's hostage rescue operation, only one other has been positively identified so far is attorney Dana Walsh. The other four, other then the witness and the victim, at this time have yet to be positively identified, although police inquiries are continuing into the night..."


The screen showed the rambling interview with Terry minutes before the police showed up. "I'm not entirely sure what is going on inside there, but I do know that my client is involved. Whatever happens, baby let me tell you, it's gonna be of certain religious significance to us all. Our entire view of how we live, how our entire universe works, may be changed by what happens in the next few minutes. A whole new group of heroes for us to love may be born by what is about to go on, babe, and it's gonna rock for all of us. Just don't move your camera whatever you do. Oh, look, here come the squad cars...."


The cop looked shaken. "Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't aliens, I can tell you that. Maybe something out of some horror movie, but that was no outer space creature."

As if on cue, the entire shot from inside the warehouse was shown with red letters sketched across the bottom of the screen, "Saginaw Michigan". Loving shots of Rigziel with his axe, Blitzen taking shots from behind Jered, Dana standing there, holding up her burden. Songs were sung, and they flashed in the dim light. Then with a haze of manifesting Balseraph and disappearing angels, it was over almost as soon as it had begun, leaving nothing but the injured and frightened humans in its wake.


"It is ah sign from God, that the end of our time is near, and soon we will be facing the Judgement Day!" Billy Ray said to the camera with his showman look, a mix of false malice and absolute glee, affixed in place. The reporter stood there and held up the microphone, and managed to keep an immaculate straight face. "The angels have come down from heaven to be among us, ready to blow their trumpets for the beginning of the final battle. We have seen here a prelude to those battles take place, right here in our own backyard. We even have them on video, so you can sit at home and watch it on television, with your wrasslin and your football and your sitcoms.

"Clearly, we can see that as the Lord has gone before and cast out the demons, it has come time for us to have faith in Him and cast out our own demons, preparing to meet our maker! I encourage those of you watching, before it is too late and you are thrown into the Pit for all eternity, to come to the All Holy Christian Tabernacle Ministries, and be saved before the eyes of the Lord! You must believe, and we will bring you into grace! Be cleansed of sin, and be prepared for the fi-"


It's not that I don't like him. Well, it is that I don't like him. And he makes me giggle, which I don't think is the point.

The screen now said Earlier Today across the bottom in garish colors. The shot was of a couple of fuzzy ghostly images emerging above the warehouse on US-23. Seconds later, the figure of Maxwell, shaking his head, walked into the shot, and it went blank. "This was from earlier today during a hostage situation," the voice over went, "shot from the Hoosier warehouse on US-23 just north of Saginaw, Michigan. While many have attributed this to various anomalies such as strange lighting and gas pockets, this and several other clips have the religious and the trekkie alike flocking to the site...."


The beautiful woman wrapped in furs stepped out of the building in Los Angeles as she was assaulted by the paparazzi. A large bodyguard stepped in front of them, and she held up a hand to protect her eyes from the flashes. The demeanor of both showed they were quite used to this treatment.


She turned to stare down the bulbs through her hand.

"How do you feel about your brother being rescued?" screamed a reporter from the back.

"Oh well," she said, as she tried to push on through, following her bodyguard. "This certainly is a good thing, I think. I'm very happy this has all turned out for the better. And I'm sure to be flying out there soon..."

Her arm was grabbed by her bodyguard, and she was drawn through the crowd. "I have to go now. Bye Bye!"

I figured this was going to go long into the night without much respite, so I turned it off.

I had tried to get through to Malik when I first came around. The entire concept of a telephone I could make personal calls from and no one would stop me was sort of mind-boggling. I was bleary and I got as far as Marty, her manager. And he was being a prick, because it goes back to that demons being goddamn annoying by nature.

I sort of think a nice chat with Malik would have put my life into perspective. It always does. Maybe tomorrow, when I feel a little better.

It took me fifteen minutes to go from lying on the bed to leaning shakily against the wall with my jeans half on. I patted my pockets to reassure myself that there wasn't a single thing in them which would protect me, should there be unexpected visitors. Had this been a hotel, I could have prepared to beam someone on the head with a Gideon's Bible, but there was no convenient heavy hardbound book in sight. One would think, if they were going to stick Bibles anywhere, it would be in a hospital, but inexplicably, this is not the case.

Nor, I realized as I finished pulling my jeans on and lurched over to the empty bed, is there nary a cigarette to be found as well.

I sat down, head in hands, and let the room stop spinning. Lazily, slowly, clockwise, much like a good bit of inebriation without the fun part it spun until it began to grin to a halt and my brains stopped feeling like they were sloshing around in my head.

I'm worried about Star, of course. I'm finding myself slipping dangerously into that region which qualifies as caring for another living individual and it really starts to mess up my head.

I have all sorts of worries, but I worry, mostly, what is going to be done to her. And I worry about how I'm going to beg and plead and cower and promise never to fuck up again even though, stubbornly, I will go ahead and continue to do so because that is my nature. Or maybe Maxwell is simply correct on this point, and I should accept that I cannot possibly take responsibility for every being in Creation.

I can love, I have loved before, but sometimes, I think, I forget how.

I slowly keeled over to the side and ended up laying there, shivering, on the bed. I pulled my knees up to my chest because it made me feel a little bit smaller, hoping that no one would notice that I exist. In my head, strands of strange music wove in and out, broken like prismed light through a cracked windshield. How dissonant can I be, that I can hear small threads of the Symphony through the cracks in my being? I push it out and ignore it, because I don't want to hear it, or acknowledge that any of it exists.

I close my eyes, and I have a momentary dream of the Boss explaining to me why I should play another round on the piano in the main gallery of the Dead Mime casino in Shal-Mari while Erlithan sings scat in three part harmony. This makes no sense to me, because Erlithan doesn't know how to paint anymore. I try to explain this, but the Boss laughs out loud for once at my charming naivete and Erlithan turns out to be nothing more then four imps on stilts holding up a mask and an immaculately tailored three piece suit. I realize how much I love the Boss at that moment, my whole being consumed for love of someone who cannot ever be loved. It chokes me.

I awoke, and was alone in the bed, listening to the sounds of the hallway outside the closed door.

I wondered if I was a liar to Dana, to Rigziel, and to Maxwell. Was I really... what? A selfish little being consumed in self-pity and terrified because I might be dying? Someone who wanted to be told that I wasn't living in some sort of ridiculous dream full of my own hypocrisy? My entire life, I had believed that Redemption and God and all that was nothing more then a big pack of lies that were spun by the opposite side to keep us amused and on our toes. My beliefs had served me well through some hard times.

What I wanted was to search the world. Chase Eli down. Scream at him that I didn't understand, that I didn't want to play in this big game anymore. I was going to throw in the towel and walk away. I needed so badly to just quit and go home and let the my little world return to the way it was, full of my lust and my entertainment and my needs and my little favors that I would spin out for a price, to be paid back in full. I needed my world to revolve around me again.

I choked back a sob, and squeezed my eyes shut. Self-pity indeed.

The drugs and the silence won, of course. How do you fight that? I certainly couldn't, and I'd been run through the wringer. Biology wins over will every time, and my will has seen better days.

The nightmare that came was a dream of being in prison, the kind of which you can't find the walls. I walked along empty corridors lit by only one single bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling every few meters. My clothing was a prison issue, with the cute little numbers stitched on my left breast. On either side were rows of darkened cells smelling of blood and feces, with lurking creatures inside. As I walked along, I heard footsteps fall in behind me, marking my path. But I looked and saw nothing.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and looked at my pursuer, and I wanted to run and hide. But I can't run and hide, because what pursues me is myself, and in my dream the dream me holds a cleaver dripping in blood, not guilty about past crimes but relishing them, looking forward to a new fresh day. How does one run from oneself?

The dream me steered me, oh so gently, towards the open door of a nearby cell. I feel wisps brushing against my face, the low evil giggling in my ear, and I think, my God, don't look me in a cage full of Shedim. But the door closes, and locks.

The dream me leans in, and grins, and says in that low sultry Daimonique voice I was once so proud of, "You're never going to escape. There is no escape from Hell. Honey, welcome home."

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.