Kitty moaned and muttered something unintelligible. Someone was shaking her and she didn’t want to wake up yet. She still had to… Her eyes flew open as she sat bolt upright, breathing hard and sweating all over.
“I thought you might appreciate being woken up. You didn’t look particularly happy,” said Seth, watching the young woman rub her eyes and pass a hand through her hair. “What were you dreaming?”
“I can’t remember,” Kitty shook her head. “But someone was screaming. I think it might have been a woman.”
“Sounds like it was a nightmare.” Seth moved as she slid off of his bed.
“Yeah, it was. And I hope I never have it again,” the twenty year old sighed, noting the absence of the newspaper clipping. “I think I’ll take a shower now. I feel nasty.”
“Go ahead. I’ll be gone when you finish but I’ll be back later,” he said, shrugging into his long coat and cursing mildly when his silver rosary caught in the sleeve.
“Where are you going?” she asked, fear slowly blossoming in her eyes.
“You think food and gas magically appear in the fridge and car? What’s the matter?” He paused with his hand on the doorknob.
Kitty hugged herself and rubbed her arms absentmindedly, “I don’t want to be alone right now.”
“You’ll be fine.” Seth crossed the room again and wrapped the rosary around her wrist. “There, now please behave yourself.”
Before she could reply he was gone. Stamping her foot and sighing frustratedly she growled, “I hate it when he does that!”
* * * *
Seth was steadily chipping away at the ice on the windshield of his black SUV. While he chipped he muttered ugly things under his breath about the snow, asked God why He had to invent such a thing, and so on. When he’d cleared a patch on the passenger’s side, Shireen’s face smiled back at him from the passenger’s seat. He sighed and rolled his eyes, continuing to de-ice the rest of the windshield and the remaining windows.
“What do you want?” he asked, sliding into the driver’s seat. “I thought I told you to stay away from Katherine.”
“Unless she’s in the car with us I’d say I’m following your instructions to the letter,” grinned the demon, picking invisible lint off of her designer jacket. “Like my new outfit?”
“Just say what you came to say and leave,” snarled Seth, starting the car and gunning the engine. “I don’t have time for you today.”
“You don’t have time for me any day…not anymore,” pouted Shireen, sticking out her lower lip.
“And she finally catches on!” he spat with sarcasm so thick you could’ve cut it with a knife.
The demon clicked her tongue and smiled devilishly, “Your little girl has started having the dreams, hasn’t she?”
Seth gripped the steering wheel and twisted, actually making the wheel itself bend out of shape. He struggled to put it right again while Shireen laughed.
“I can tell by your reaction she has. Oh goody, we’re finally going to have some fun.” Shireen clapped her hands like a little girl.
“You stay out of it! She’ll be fine. She just had a nightmare…that’s all.” Seth straightened the steering wheel with one last yank. “You can leave now.”
“If she dreamed about the screaming woman it wasn’t a nightmare. You know that, Seth.” Shireen leaned close and whispered in his ear, “And you can hear her too, can’t you? Late at night when you’re all alone…”
“Did they assign you just to torture me?” asked Seth, staring at the ceiling.
“No, I volunteered. I live to see that look on your face. It makes my life that much sweeter. When your new girl starts to lose her mind, let me know. I want to watch.”
“Get out of here!” he yelled, taking inordinate pleasure at the rapidity with which she followed his command.
Seth bowed his head and offered up a quick prayer before backing quickly out of the drive, “Lord protect Katherine from one of the most dangerous beings she’s encountered. Please protect her from me.”
* * * *
Kitty was sitting on the edge of the couch balancing her guitar in her lap. She strummed it lightly, fingers clumsy at first, before breaking into her version of ‘What’s Up’, “Twenty-five years of my life is still trying to get up this great big hill of hope…”
By the time she got to the chorus she was in her stride. Music had always been her safe haven, making her forget whatever was bothering her. Singing and playing gave Kitty a rare sense of freedom, one she hadn’t indulged in lately.
The front door slammed and she stopped singing, continuing to play softly, “Did you have fun at the store?”
The silence that greeted her made her extremely edgy, “Seth?”
“I’m not Seth,” said the outrageously tall blond male who entered the living room.
“Who are you?” asked Kitty, standing and backing away from the stranger.
“Don’t be afraid. I’m a friend,” he replied, holding up his hands palms outward.
“Seth doesn’t have friends. So, why don’t you tell me who you really are? I’m not in the mood to play games.” The young girl’s voice shook and her attempt at toughness fell flat.
“I understand why you’re uneasy, Kitty. But, really you can trust me. Why don’t you sit down and stop holding the guitar like you’re going to beat me over the head with it.” The man gestured towards the couch as he eased his tall frame into a wide leather chair. “My name is Gabriel.”
“Gabriel? The Gabriel, Seth told to take me away last night?” asked Kitty, collapsing on the sofa.
“The very same one, yes,” he said, reaching down the side of the chair cushion and removing a pack of cigarettes hidden there. “Hm, he told me he’d given these up. The stress must be getting to him.”
“Why can I see you now and I couldn’t last night? Is it some sort of nephilim trick? Like when Seth goes and disappears on me…which I hate by the way,” she muttered, pursing her lips.
“Nephilim trick?” The man looked puzzled.
“Yes, you’re a nephilim like Seth, aren’t you?”
“Kitty,” Gabriel sighed. “Did you ever crack a Bible when you were little?”
“Sure, but there was only ever one Gabriel in it and he was…he was an…oh boy.” The young woman whistled and put a hand to her forehead. “That means the Michael he was talking about was…”
“The Archangel Michael, yes. And Seth only sees him when things are really getting ugly,” he nodded, watching most of the color leave Kitty’s face.
Kitty cleared her throat, “Okay, so to put not too fine a point on it…what did I do?”
“Do?” the angel raised an eyebrow.
“Well, you’re sitting in front of me so obviously I’ve done something wrong.”
“You haven’t done anything wrong. On the contrary, you’ve been gifted with something very special.”
“What?” She shifted uncomfortably.
“Your eyes have been opened to see what’s around you,” Gabriel steepled his fingers, noting her confused reaction.
“I don’t understand.”
“You can see angels and demons. You can now see the world as it truly is and not be deceived by appearances. It will be a useful skill in the fight that is to come.”
“Fight! Oh no, no, no. It’s not my fight,” Kitty backpedaled as the expression on the angel’s face changed. “Of course I’m on God’s side in the whole good vs. evil thing but I’m no fighter. I wage small daily battles. Not full fledged war.”
“You would ignore your calling?”
“But I’m not right for this sort of thing. Talk to Seth, he tore the heads off of those demons. That’s more what you’ll need, right?”
Gabriel shook his head, “Seth needs someone to temper him. He needs a companion to fight by his side and pull him back.”
“He has Anita for that. He doesn’t need me. Half the time I don’t think he even likes me.”
“Sister Anita’s time here is almost done.”
“Oh don’t say that. She’s a wonderful person and not old at all. Besides, Seth sort of depends on her,” Kitty hugged herself against a sudden unexplainable chill.
The angel rose from his chair, “Look out of that window and tell me what you see.”
The twenty year old craned her neck, “I see…I see shadows. No, they’re more like…shadow people.” She shivered again, “I don’t like them.”
“Dark times are coming, Kitty. The shadows are coming and there are few who will stand against the darkness. Help him, Katherine Sontag. If he falls…”
Kitty turned quickly but Gabriel had already vanished into the slanting afternoon light.