The Priest Comes
The priest walked slowly down the dark street, intent on his thoughts as the moon fought the clouds for dominance. The wind blew his coat around like a rag doll as he tried to figure out a way around his current problem; stopping that murderer. He was old, older than he should be, and he had known about this man for many years, yet his father had forbidden him to end the problem once and for all. Father Michael stopped at a corner as the stop sign bent in the wind and looked both ways before stepping into the street. He didn’t need to, but it was a habit he had grown accustomed to over the many years. At first glance he was nothing special to look at. He was of average height and weight, nearing six feet and slim by modern standards, his black clothing hanging comfortably on his frame, yet it was his eyes that most people remembered. His bright blue eyes seemed like pools of sky that could see into your very soul, and tell you what you hated about yourself the most.
Father Michael looked up as he walked, silently praying at the vanishing moon, and ignored the cars that were screeching to a halt and blaring their horns at the next intersection. You know I could fix this once and for all…he thought, finally acknowledging the drivers that were yelling obscenities at him, despite his white collar. I know you forbid it, yet I can’t help but say again that it would be for the best. Hearing no response, as usual, he sighed and walked on. Faith was one of those things that humanity took for granted, yet even the most faithful had their doubts now and again. As he approached the hospital his thoughts turned towards the helpless child he knew was suffering inside. The poor child was going to die soon, and there was nothing anyone could do. So why is that murderer coming here? he asked himself, as he walked up to the main doors.
“Evening Father,” the security guard greeted him, waving him on through the metal detector and nodding to the man at the door. “He’s fine Joe, I vouch for him.”
Father Michael stopped in front of the man at the door, a new guard he hadn’t met yet and saw the man’s doubt. “It’s all right my child, you don’t have to take his word,” he said, holding up his arms and turning slowly so the man could check him once more. The youth in New Detroit had become brazen with their attacks on the hospital pharmacy this past year and security had become worse here than at the airports.
“Sorry Father,” Joe said, frisking his quickly and then bowing his head.
“Nothing to be sorry about,” Michael replied, touching two fingers upon the man’s brow and whispering a quick prayer. The man’s eyes lit up and he breathed a sigh of relief. Father Michael left them behind, chuckling at their fading conversations. He got into the elevator and pressed the number 4, watching the metal doors close and hearing their wonder. He had that affect on people.
A Mother’s Worry
She watched the restraints go taut as her son thrashed on the table, despite the drugs in his system. Frustrated tears made their way down her stoic face as she watched the monitor, praying for some sign of a change. Nothing. Dr. Sandra Cain reached over and hit the call button with shaking hands. “All right Fran, you can untie him,” she said, releasing the button and sitting back with a heavy sigh. She saw her assistant walk towards the table with a hesitation born of past mistakes and tenderly unties the seven year old boy. Once the restraints were off the boy calmed down immediately, sitting up and looking around with confusion in his eyes.
“I thought we agreed you weren’t treating your own son anymore Sandra?” a voice asked from the doorway behind her.
Sandra sat up and swore under her breath, berating herself for not hearing the door open. “Vincent I just wanted to try the new serum I had been working on when you took over the case.”
The other man walked around and sat in the chair next to her, his dark hair falling into his face. Brushing it to the side, Dr. Vincent Wu set down his clipboard and leaned back, irritation clear on his face. “You’re too close to this one Sandra, let me treat your son and I promise you we will find a way to get past his rage.”
“It’s killing him and you know it Vincent.”
“I know you think that, but there is very little evidence to support that, other than your family research.”
“We have had only three boys born into my family over the last two hundred years, and only one that survived,” Sandra started, standing and pacing around the room, her emotions getting the better of her calculating mind. “That cannot be a coincidence.”
Dr. Wu sat up a little straighter, fixing his white coat and swiveling around to face her. “It’s either IED or ODD Sandra, we’ve all agreed, except Dr. Harrison who says it’s IED with Bipolar.”
“He’s an idiot.”
“You’re not wrong on that, yet it holds more water than your theory,” he said, softening his voice. “Listen, I know you care…If it were my son.”
“But it’s not,” she said with an air of finality. She turned to the glass and saw Aleksandr looking at her, fear in his eyes. She smiled and raised her fingers to her eyes, her heart, and then back to him. [I love you] He made the sign back and then followed the assistant out of the room, his head hung down.
“Go home for now and we’ll look at his charts again in the morning. Who knows, maybe the new serum will do something after all,” Vincent said, patting her on the arm as he stood.
“All right, I’ll just say goodnight to Alek and then I’ll go get some sleep,” she said, leaving and wondering if they would ever find out what was wrong with her baby boy.
The Stranger and the Rage
She walked out and went to her son’s room, to say good bye, but when she turned the corner she hit a wall of some kind and fell back. Landing on her backside, she looked up to see what she ran into and gasped. The man staring down at her was dressed in faded jeans and a tight white t-shirt. His jacket looked worn and very old, like it was his grandfathers, and his piercing eyes were the color of wet dirt; a deep brown that seemed made of the very earth itself. He had long brown hair and tanned skin, on a massive frame filled with corded muscle. “I’m…I’m sorry I didn’t see you there,” she stammered as she tried to stand on wobbly legs.
The man smiled; a cold smile that didn’t seem to touch his eyes. Like he had seen everything and didn’t like any of it. “It’s my fault, I wasn’t even looking up,” he said, helping her stand. “I was actually looking for you, Sandra.”
“Do I know you?” she asked, knowing full well that if she had ever seen this man before she would’ve have remembered it. Remembered it and dreamt about it for years.
“No. I’m a friend of your fathers’. My name is Adam,” he said, walking with her as they talked. “I’m here because of your son.”
Sandra stopped, an icy hand gripping her spine. “What do you know about my son?”
“I know that he has a…rage that he can’t control. I know,” he went on, forestalling her with a raised finger, “That he is getting worse and that the doctors all think it’s some sort of mental disorder. I know differently.”
Sandra looked into Adam’s eyes and saw sadness, like he knew exactly what she was feeling. “You’ve lost someone like this before haven’t you?”
“Yes, I’ve only been able to save one so far. I’m hoping that your son will be the second, but there isn’t much time.” He turned the corner and stopped before her son’s door. He cocked his head to one side and listened at the door, then nodded. “Coast is clear.”
Sandra watched him open the door and walk in; going right to her son’s bed even though there was another boy in the room. That icy hand twisted the spine it had grabbed and sent that chill straight into her gut. “Wait, how do you know about Denis again?” she asked, trying to trick him.
He turned, smiling again and actually laughed. “Aleksandr has the same symptoms that the other boys had,” he said walking over and patting the boy on the head.
“Don’t touch me!” the boy screamed, his eyes wide and his veins in his neck popping out. His adrenalin was flushing again, that fight or flight kicking in every time that the rage did. “Don’t you hurt her!”
“Alek, it’s all right,” Adam said, placing his hand on the boy and closing his eyes. The boy closed his eyes as well and laid back down, breathing normally once more.
“How did you?”
“Listen, were almost out of time, Michael will be here any minute.”
“Father Michael? How do you know him?” Sandra’s head was spinning.
“Father? He is no priest, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you take this and make a serum out of it,” Adam said, handing her a vial full of what looked like blood.
“What is this?”
“It’s a vial of my blood. Trust me, I’m a match for your son and that will be able to cure him of what has gripped him.”
“How are you…Who are you?”
Adam turned to face her, his smile somehow genuine this time. “I’m…family. That’s all you need to know.” He walked around her and went to the door, listening again. “Now, I want you to lock this behind me and do not come out no matter what you hear,” he told her as he opened it, looking back one last time. “Just make that serum tonight and everything else will be fine.” Adam left and closed the door.
The Meeting of the Two
Father Michael got off the elevator and saw him, standing there in the hallway just like any normal human being. “There you are,” he said, squaring his shoulders and letting his coat fall to the floor. “I’ve been looking for you Cain.”
“I go by Adam these days Michael.”
“Adam? Is that some sort of sick joke? You are a murderer. Why would you take the name of your father like that?”
“You wouldn’t understand family Michael; you angels have no souls, so the concept doesn’t mean anything to you.”
“I understand that the boy can’t be allowed to live with the curse you passed on to him.” Michael walked forward, flexing his shoulders and letting his wings come out; the bright white feathers brushing the walls on either side of the hallway.
“He will live, Michael, just like David did two hundred years ago,” the man called Cain said. Spreading his feet apart and balancing on the balls of his feet.
“How are you going to save this one when you couldn’t save any of the others,” Michael said, his sword manifesting in his right hand by sheer will alone. He couldn’t kill Cain, but he could take him out for awhile while the cursed man healed. He had done this over and over for millennia, always putting the man down when he could find him. Cain couldn’t die, but he took a long time to heal.
“I gave the mother a vial of my blood.”
“You what!?” Michael yelled, caught completely off guard for the first time in centuries. The implications were staggering. Maybe now his Father would allow him to slay all the progeny of Cain and be done with it. “They can’t learn of divinity Cain!”
“And they won’t. Don’t you see Michael? The humans today don’t want to believe,” he said, walking slowly towards the angel with his hands out wide. “Remember that video of me falling off the building last year? It went viral and everyone thought it was photo shopped.”
“And that video of Gabriel in Russia, saving that kid on a bike. They labeled it part of a video game!” Cain stopped a mere two feet away from the archangel, still smiling. “They really don’t want to see what is right in front of them.”
Michael closed his eyes, hating what the man was saying but finding no argument. He struck quickly, plunging his sword into Cain’s chest and out his back, feeling blood splatter his face as the man spit, taking the mortal wound. He grabbed the man’s jacket, holding him up and spun towards the windows, flying out in a spray of blood and glass. He dropped the body over the river and soared up into the clouds. They better not Cain…they better not.
That night, once Sandra had dared to peak out, she went down to the lab and worked on the blood she had been given. She had tried to listen at the door, but it was so thick that she hadn’t caught much except her last name and the loud crash of glass. She looked over the specimen and was astounded at what she was seeing. Science had reached the point where they could tell a person’s biological age by analyzing proteins in the blood. By measuring the levels of an enzyme, called alkaline phosphatase, they could track the changes in the body between childhood and adulthood. The levels in the blood before her had to be wrong. It said that the age of the body was at least four millennia old, if not more.
It took her well into the morning to come up with a workable serum, one that wasn’t even tested, but she somehow believed the man. No one bothered her work, well past hours in the hospital, mainly because of the police investigating the blood and broken four story window. Walking towards her son’s room with the syringe in her pocket she looked up to the ceiling and silently prayed. God, let this work…I just want my son to live, she said as she neared her sons new room. They had moved him down one floor to the cancer wing as the police were still working up on the fourth floor. She opened the door to the room and saw someone sitting in the chair in the corner.
“Who are you?” she asked, backing up a little, ready to fight for her son. She could see Aleksandr tossing fitfully in his sleep, the veins in his neck pulsing softly. It was getting worse.
“My name is Gabriel and let’s just say that I’m here to make sure this gets done without interference,” he said, standing up and brushing off his white suit. He had long dirty blond hair and green eyes like liquid emeralds.
“Are you a friend of father Michael?” she asked, remembering what Adam had said about the man not being a priest. Yet there was something calming about the man standing there and she found herself relaxed despite the fear of her son.
“Michael and I don’t always see eye to eye, but yes I know him. Please, give your son the shot and let’s pray together,” he said, waving her over to her son’s side.
Aleksandr was almost panting now, close to either a seizure or waking up in a fit of rage like he had been doing for months. She wiped his arm with the sterile wipe in her pocket and gave him the shot, closing her eyes and clutching the boys arm.
* * *
“Hey, it will be all right,” Gabriel said, moving impossibly fast to stand by her side, knowing that the woman was at her human limit for endurance.
“How do you know that?” Sandra asked, yawning yet never letting her son go.
Gabriel smiled, remembering what his sister had said about this one. “Well I have it on the highest authority that your son will be fine. After all, family is the most important thing in this life.” He said, but she was already fading. He guided her to the chair in the corner, then went to check on the boy. Sure enough his breathing was slowing down and the veins were easing up. The rage, brought on from the Mark of Cain passed down to all males of his line, was being brought to heel. He lifted the boys sleeve and saw the birthmark, a plain circle upon his bicep, start to fade. It was rare to bear a son from the blood of Cain, but not impossible. They all died from the curse God had laid upon the first murderer, yet He was not all condemning. This one would live and go on to do great things, but his job wasn’t done. He still had to find Michael and have the ‘talk’ he was dreading. But that was a problem for another day.