Halloween is nigh, but this is no ghost story. A far older creature treads this path, dating back to the dawn of creation and the first cracks of destruction.
“People are basically evil, y’know?”
Vita stopped polishing the glass in her hands and looked down towards the end of the bar; he sat alone, the last barfly.
“You say somethin’, sugar?”
“Evil. Downright, no good, rotten to the core.” He looked up at her with eyes so woeful she wondered if he was reciting something famous. “Filled to the brim with putrefaction.”
“Uh…huh…” Vita wasn’t sure how to respond to the maudlin mumbling. “Can I get you another, hon?”
The man stared at his empty glass as though he couldn’t figure out what to do with it. He shook his shaggy head, dark hair streaked unevenly with gray. With the big eyes and his long hair, Vita couldn’t help comparing him to the old, tired dog her parents finally put out of its misery. She slopped several fingers of whiskey into a glass and downed it after toasting poor, dead Polo’s memory.
“Listen, I gotta close up, and if you’re not orderin’ anythin’ else…”
“For your troubles,” the man shoved some coins across the bar.
Vita stifled a sigh. The last customer of the night was always the worst. This guy’d been drinking top shelf vodka all night and now he was trying to pay her with change? She wished Luis hadn’t left early. She could throw the drunk out if she had to, but Luis could just scare the guy out with no fuss. Walking down to retrieve the pitiful sum and explain to the sodden stranger that the stuff on the top shelf cost more than…
Vita blinked at the coins. They were solid gold. She looked up again at the stranger and blanched. His eyes were black–she couldn’t distinguish pupils from irises against the whites of his eyes. She backed away from the counter, leaning against the back bar when her knees threatened to buckle.
“You ooze it, you know? Your fear, yes, but also all those little dark and tiny things you ferret away in the corners of your soul. The time you shoved little Ben Zerin down the stairs in fourth grade, the money you’ve stolen out of the register or the tip jar, the club you visit every Friday. Do you think you’re better than the average “bad” person because you never kill? Because you only steal fives and tens and not fifties and hundreds?” The man’s thin lips spread wide in a smile that exposed all of his white teeth. “You disgust me, all of you.”
“All…who?” Vita’s breath caught in a sob.
“Humanity!” his voice made the bottles behind the bar shake and Vita whimpered. “The whole putrescent, pathetic lot of you. You’re like pigs, wallowing in your own filth, decaying day by day.”
Vita couldn’t look away from his face, his thin nose and high, clean-shaven cheekbones. A handsome face, except for the eyes and the loathing that twisted his mouth. His skin seemed almost translucent, his hair no longer unkempt. There was no resemblance now to the beloved family dog. Vita clutched the edge of the back counter as black spots began to speckle her vision. She was trapped in the bar with a crazy man, whose eyes were black.
“He chose you above His favored ones–above EVERYONE. And look at you. LOOK AT YOURSELF!” His empty glass shattered as he swept it from the bar and leaned over, fixing Vita in his gaze like an insect squirming on a pin.
She saw her pale, white-lipped face reflected in his black orbs and felt them pulling her in. She saw, in flickers, herself. Shoving Ben down the stairs and hearing his leg crack. Pocketing the money from the register with a grin on her face. Dancing with men with rings on their left hands and money in their pockets. She saw herself with her best friend’s husband, with her sister’s husband, with the earrings she stole from her mother. She was drowning in memories that tasted like thick, rotten oil and filled up her nose and mouth and the black spots became black blobs of sludge.
Abbadon, the destroyer, looked down at the woman behind the bar, her limbs still faintly twitching. The black ooze spewing from her eyes, mouth, nose, and ears steamed slightly, pooling on the floor around her head. He wrinkled his nose; they were foul enough when the taint was inside, once the corruption spilled out it was nearly impossible to be around it.
A faint buzzing reached his ears and he cocked his head for a moment, his entire body straightening, primed like an arrow on a taught string. As the frequency became clear he realized it was not the Master,the Morning Star. One of Them. One of His, the cronies, the kneelers, the mindless, pandering hoard. Singing His endless praises while we wade through human scum, Abbadon sneered.
Abbadon left the gold coins on the bar. Let the lawmen with their tiny brains puzzle out how Babylonian coins from 600 B.C. connected to the bloating corpse. The Others would know what it meant–little good it would do them. The Battle was far in the future; these little skirmishes were just plain fun.
The melted candles on the bar twirled in the breeze that signaled Abbadon’s departure. If anyone in the bar were alive to hear, they would have sworn there was the whispering sound of wings.