I had traveled far after the bombs, back and forth across the states, but had settled for a while in DC, as I always had. This time on the outskirts outside the ruins. It was the best place for my work, so many susceptible to what I offered. I appreciated the challenges offered elsewhere, but occasionally I enjoyed a break, a few easy takers. I was also a collector.
It was nearing nighttime when they came. I was reading The Trial for the fiftieth time or so. Books are hard to come by these days. They knocked on the door and I remember I looked out the window at the fading light and thought Evangelists maybe, this should be fun. It was more a wish than an actual guess, but I had no idea how close I was to the truth.
I just opened the door right up, and there were two angels standing there. I knew right away that they were angels; they weren’t cloaking or hiding their being, though their appearance was human. But they radiated it, wanted me to know. Any human on the street would be sure to look at them twice and wonder who they were, why they were making them unsettled. They both had dark hair, but one of them had golden eyes, the other black. The latter held a metal box in his hands.
“What a surprise,” I said, flippant, unaware. “How can I help you gentlemen?”
“We’re coming in, Samael,” Golden Eyes said.
“Of course.” I stepped aside for them. “I invite you to.”
They walked in, eyeing the apartment as if looking for traps. I closed the door and watched them, my arms crossed. “And to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“No pleasure to any of us, I assure you,” Golden Eyes said. His voice dripped with derision. He saw my book lying pages down and picked it up as if picking up a dirty washcloth, losing my place in the process.
“The things you creatures read,” he said.
“Are you referring to me or humans?” I said.
“None of you,” he continued, ignoring me, “has any clue of the infinite philosophies of Heaven. So you comfort yourselves with these triflings.”
“Come to insult me. How nice of you. So glad I invited you in.”
“We’ve come with a gift.” He swiped my table clear with a hand, sending papers and glass and candles scattering to the floor and getting candle wax all over my rug. He indicated the space he had made and Dark Eyes set down the box with a loud whump. I think Golden Eyes gave him a look of reproach, but it was hard to tell with my candles guttering out on the floor.
“You know, there are delivery services still available,” I grumbled as I looked over the box. It might have been silver, shining in the fading light from the windows, completely smooth and untarnished. Brand new. I couldn’t make out the seam indicating the lid.
“Open it,” Golden Eyes said, grave.