Part of the Angel Cycle
Note: This is the first Angel Cycle story, written years ago in a single sitting.
The waterdrop fell.
It elongated with sexual slowness, thrusting down along its path, the point falling behind as the air slid its ethereal hands over the curves of its surface. Lusting, pushing, wanting, it met the water with grace, its orgasm displayed for all to see in the crown that rose around the point of impact to settle back into the glassine silver. In a moment there was nothing to show that it had been there at all other than the faint ripple that pulsed along the interface of water and air, crossing and recrossing itself before it finally flared with reflected light and faded into the dreams which brought it forth.
Shan got to his feet to meet the rumble that began to pervade the air. He unfolded himself slowly, his eyes still on the tap a meter or so above the puddle that ran between the ties of the old rails in the tunnel under the City. Another drop was born, its wordless song of grace begun and ended in the space of a heartbeat. Time to go.
Straightening his collar, smoothing the material back into shape, he absently pushed his hair back into its customary slick with the other hand. There was a song in the air. He waited, smiling, and spread his arms as he stood beside the wall of the tunnel and waited for the Angel to come.
The hum went on for a minute. It didn't gain in volume so much as in depth, as more and more of the surrounding stone and steel and air began to resonate in tune with it. Shan could feel the frenzied rocking of the molecules against his skin. Will it be now? The everpresent question. The dust motes hanging in the directionless half light began to dance and slide past his face as the breeze began, then there was a mindless, screaming shouting blast of light and air and power and the ever so quick flash of steel and silver as the Angel tore its way through the resisting molecules, slammed them apart against the walls, against him, against the outstretched T of his arms.
Shan stumbled in its wake. He did not fall.
After a few seconds, he opened his eyes. Not this time. The dance and song began again, interrupted as it usually was after an Angel passed.
Shan ambled off down the tunnel as behind him, another immortal unsung unique terminal all-important identical waterdrop met its puddle in a clear pure note that reverberated off the walls and was silent to the nonexistent ears.
* * *
Television, someone once said, is the death of electrons. It is a kamikaze death, for all it serves to do is destroy the ability of the viewer to think.
Marren rubbed her eyes, sighed, and began to flip off the old monitors one by one. The Sony first, then the two RCA's, finally the Mitsubishi. As they faded into their primal white glowing dots and receded into the magical world behind the screen, she stood and stretched. Yawning, she walked towards the kitchen while unkinking her arms and wishing that she was already asleep - and had more than three hours before she needed to awaken in order to make her meeting the next morning. Resignedly, she yawned again, decided against the coffee, stripped off her clothes and threw herself down onto the couch, diagrams and plans and a precis of the night's work sliding around in her head. Moaning, she buried her head underneath her pillow until sleep finally came.
Peace did not arrive as well.
The figure looked at her with a half smile and turned away, rejecting even her soul in favor of the bright cool lines that burned on her four screens. Marren ached to scream, to shout out to him, to tell him to look at her, but she could not speak. There was a click as the first monitor died. The picture that had been displayed on its smooth glass surface slid its way over her body, lines of red and blue and white light outlining her in sections, those that ached to be touched in blue, those that felt the chill in white, and those that wished for sensation in red. The second monitor expired with a pop, not a click, and green light washed over her breasts, as she felt herself go slightly limp in her chair with the feathery touch. Another monitor; her body was crying soundlessly, great aching sobs wracking her bones as she felt the teasing of the yellow glyphs passing over her nipples, her thighs. The figure was still intently examining the monitors, although there was only one left that was displaying any sort of information, a single pulse of violet light that flickered at random before it brightened to such a degree that the tube itself cracked, a violent snap of sound as the bright hard beam of the electron gun ripped through the glass and struck her body, distorting off the center of her breastbone in jagged, sharp, flickering, needling rays of purple. Still, the other was staring at the three dead monitors and the one joined to her by way of light.
A scream was building in her now, she could feel it, although she knew she wouldn't be allowed to let it free. Silently it gathered strength inside her, pushing up through her lungs to her throat where to her surprise it tore forth much as the light had torn from the Mitsubishi to echo from the invisible walls and shatter the three dead screens. The watcher turned slightly, as though waiting, and then was painted away, vanishing in random brushstrokes of impossibility, and the restraints that she had known were there but had not looked at evaporated, leaving her hands free and she frantically slapped them down between her legs, the orgasm wiping her clean as she screamed and screamed and woke to her own sobs in the empty room with her sweat and fluids running off her body to work their magic darkening change on the color of the couch below her.
On the worktable, the Mitsubishi flared and shrank to a small dot and receded to the world behind the screen, as an invisible hand slowly and deliberately released the power button and faded into the tension draining from her body as she slowly contracted into a fetal curl, her hands pressed firmly between her legs and her face pressed into the rough material of the cushion.
* * *
The dreams would come to him through the Angel, through the Web in which it sang and ran and passed, and Shan would know then for what they were, and walk through the lines and the acts that he knew he was supposed to, and then there would be an answer of another question, a moment of time in which all was right before he flashed blue and returned to himself, aimlessly walking the tunnels and waiting for the Angel to pass him again and bless him with its handless touch. He stopped and watched as a mouse slowly worked its way out from underneath a metal plate lying against the walls of the tunnel on the other side of the Angel's Web. It stopped, its minute brown body poised as its whiskers tested the sir around it. As its eyes came to rest on Shan, it froze, and the two of them stared at each other for several seconds before Shan smiled and the mouse emerged from its hole to climb the circle of the Web nearest it. It hung there, watching him around the edge of the loop of steel, for a moment, as the song began in his head. Shan frowned, and made shooing motions at the mouse. It ignored him, and he began to shout at it, wordless primal noises, hoping that it would react. It continued to hang there, but cocked one of its miniscule ears to listen to his capering as the song grew in depth until the Angel slapped him across every inch of his body at once and he was thrown back from the Web against the wall of the tunnel. Leaping to his feet, he ran to the Web, stared across, hoping-
But there was a dark smear across the opposing concrete, and a small shape lying in the gutter where floor met wall, unmoving.
* * *
Marren woke to the pleasant murmuring of her coffeemaker as it produced in fast motion a cascade of coffeedrops, each unique identical and unsung before they pattered into the ceramic grave of her cup.
Sighing, she arose from the couch and turned towards the bathroom as behind her another twenty-eight drops of coffee were born and destroyed.
The shower ran very cold.
She jumped, almost, as she ran her hands across herself. Soaped, rinsed, cleansed, she emerged to clasp her coffee for benediction before draining the mug and gasping as the scalding liquid seared its way through her cells into her brain.
Dressing quickly, Marren grabbed up her solid of notes and diagrams and ran for her door, palming it shut behind her before dashing for the elevator and the Capsule it held beyond the second opening of its doors.
Reaching a vacant seat, Marren waited as the doors closed and the induction coils received current, hurling the train into the waiting embrace of the tunnel and the destined meeting with a station across the city. She shivered, once, her body quivering with remembering, and then shook it off and opened her memory to review her notes, the blue lines of its tiny screen washing across her face in static unwavering traceries.
* * *
Shan sank to a sitting position, still staring at the mouse as it lay in the gutter. He shook his head, once, then reached an arm up the wall to pull himself to a standing position once more before slowly beginning another walk down the tunnel towards (but never reaching) the pools of light that interrupted the Angel's passage. His leather jacket crinkled as he stretched his arms out experimentally, but the Angel had come and gone, bringing its power and its death to his life for the time being. The mouse watched him go with unseeing but still beady eyes.
After a time of walking, Shan paused at an intersection where the Web ran over itself. One strand went up over the other, and the tunnel became taller to accomodate it. Shan stopped, and listened with himself, realizing that the Ride was near, for he could not hear the dreams. He checked the circlets of Steel around his wrists, and ankles, and the band about his waist, and waited for the Angel to come. He climbed up to the top of the lower Web, and crouched on the Circle that bore him and waited.
* * *
Marren closed her memory with a snap, and returned it to her pocket. Leaning back against the wall of the car, she realized that she was now one of only two people in the car; the other, an old woman of indeterminate age, was slumped in her seat, obviously asleep. The bland decor of the car itself stared complacently at her as her gaze roved from one end of the car to the other.
* * *
Shan felt the song grow. His skin whispered with the passing of the breeze, and just as he felt he would burst, there was the familiar slam of the Angel, as he let go of the Circle to fall into the Web and feel the tugging pull of the Angel as it caught him up, pulled him until he felt as if his outstretched arms would tear themselves from their sockets, and the walls blurred and ran into a grey watercolor smear as the glaring light of the Circles brightened ahead of him, the circle of the Angel growing slightly larger as he gained on it.
The Web itself was a nearly indistinguishable grey wall now, with a glaring circle of light just ahead of the Angel itself. Shan's circlets were glowing as they sang to him, to the Angel, and his head ached with the power of the Angel, and the dreams ran into his head, warm and hot like water and burning like ice-
She couldn't see him yet, as he crept up behind the glass table on which she lay staring upward, her hands crossed on her breasts, which heaved slightly with the silver of her breath. Shan closed his eyes and reached out to touch her shoulders, and she started slightly, invisibly, her surprise making itself known only through the shock that ran through her skin and into his hands. Her eyes focused, and came to rest on his face, and he raised his hands to her eyes, covering them and extending up across her forehead.
Shan was intensely aware of his wrists burning as he held his hands over her face while she quieted under the Silver of his touch. Around them, the monitors flared their silent song of light of red of blue of green of white of violet and silver. Her body began to run with colors before his eyes, and he began to run his hands over the blue, to breathe gently on the white, to touch the red in every different way he was able, before she reached up to him and faded from view, leaving him alone in a world of laughing monitors and colored beams of light with the silver circle of the Angel receding and the circle of light retreating into the distance as he sank towards to bottom of the Web, and he instinctively curled in on himself as the studs on his jacket touched the Steel of the Web with a hissing scream to fill the world, sliding, scraping, falling to a stop to end up glowing softly on the floor of the Web as the Angel sang its way out of sight and the blast of its passage faded from his ears.
The dreams remained now, etched in lines of red, of blue, of green, of white, of violet and silver, pulsing behind his eyes and intruding into his vision in moiré patterns and curving waves. He rolled out of the Web reflexively, and lay on the floor of the tunnel with the dreams singing in his head, as a drop of water fell from somewhere impossibly high up and met its death/fulfillment in a puddle of water in front of his nose.
* * *
Marren jerked back to herself reflexively, and yanked her hand from her lap in sudden shame and confusion, although her only companion, the old woman, was still snoring lightly at the other end of the car. Shakily, she gathered up her memory from where it had fallen on the floor of the car, and clutched it to herself in frightened wonder. The train slowed, its cylindrical mass shuddering with the deceleration, and as it sighed to a stop the doors slid open silently to offer her the empty cathedral of steel and silver and light that was the station for which she had waited so patiently. It looked at her as if to say Look, look how far I have come for you, don't you want me now? so she got up from her seat and left the gently breathing train behind her to stand upon the concrete of the platform. There was no one else in sight. The inside of the train was painted from her view by the rollers of the doors, and there was a moment of loud song as the train lifted itself slightly and hurled itself clear of the entrapment of the lights and open space, back to the safety of the tunnels where it lived.
Marren located the exit. As the red finger of the scanning laser caressed her and opened the gate, its touch left her breathless before she realized that she hadn't felt it.
* * *
Dreams in color, in red and violet and blue and white and green and yellow rushed through Shan's head and distorted his vision into a wavering dim picture of a world only barely felt. He walked aimlessly again, feeling his way occasionally with an outstretched arm against the wall. He felt her still, felt her as he had during the Ride, felt the warm fullness of her colors invade his mind and body and tinge his entire being with her hue, a particular warm reflection he could not name. If he reached out, he could still see her-
* * *
-the elevator dissolved into a wash of colored pulsing rhythms and Marren felt her nipples beginning to glow achingly blue, and her hands shining faintly red beneath the skin, and from the endless dark that surrounded her, the violet beam seared into her chest and she felt the light pour from her as if she had swallowed an arc lamp, lighting the area around her as she screamed in ecstasy and found herself back in the elevator on the way to the fifteenth floor and her meeting and her job and her day and her reality-
* * *
-but he couldn't touch her, not as he had during the ride, and so Shan stepped slideways into the Circle he carried within him and around him and felt the Dreams open the gateway for him as they couldn't when they had faded from the intensity they achieved for a day or so after a Ride. He reached out for her, and waited-
* * *
The doors sighed open and Marren rushed in, ignoring the seven faces turned to meet her as she hurried to her seat. The speaker resumed after an obligatory pause to allow her to collect herself and smile at her colleagues. Droning on as she pulled out her memory and went through the motions of taking notes, the blue traceries dancing under her fingers and her long cool nails with the precision of a poem and the grace of a ballet and the feeling of a song.
* * *
She had eluded him, up to now, he thought, as his searching found her, located her, and he went to her and took her hand-
* * *
The circle of light opened above the table and the screams of her coworkers were lost in her own as Marren watched the figure step from the light to the surface of the table with the nimble uncaring step of a boy dancing to his mirror. The face turned to look at her and the mirrors on the sunglasses showed the blue traceries of her memory from where it had fallen, a second time now this day, and the holoprojector drew lines across the leather jacket of red, of blue, of white, of violet, of green, of yellow, and he reached out a hand to her. She took it numbly, even as she realized that one of his legs remained on the other side of the circle behind the screen her mind supplied distantly. He pulled her up onto the table and to him as she locked herself against his body which she realized as she touched him was thin, thinner than it looked, shrouded as it was by leather and plastic, and the cold shock of a lens of his glasses touched her forehead as they kissed, and she sobbed to herself and pushed and they fell backwards forwards sideways down through the Circle, and her world painted itself away in a spilled pool of impossibility to leave her with nothing but black sky and silver plain and him and the warmth of their bodies trapped by the pile of clothing beneath them on the featureless silver plane that faded, after, into a smooth concrete surface.
* * *
The Angel passed with a slashing roar and whirlwind of Dreams that passed through them in a wave of color as they lay there, and both released the Circle to fall through into the vortex of light and air as the Angel grabbed them both by the arms and waists and ankles, laughing, and pulled them along behind itself as it danced backwards across the world and tore forward soundlessly and mindlessly through the wastes of the cold earth.
Part of the Angel Cycle