The time has come…
How? Why? I actually don’t know, neither was my job to know it. However, it was an interesting thing to see, and I had a good seat…among best ones. So I just shifted myself to the place I needed to be, waiting for beginning...
Teashop, rainy afternoon…
-Excuse me, Miss…?-
Girl of twenty three wearing bright yellow waitress uniform turned toward my voice. For a moment, I could see it in her eyes…a surprise, a quick look toward glass doors, which never opened for me…
Few seconds of typical human “this can’t be” realization, quick (and again, so human) decision to deny everything and…a smile.
-What can I get you, sir?-she said, approaching.
I made myself comfortable, thinking about tea.
-Hmm…Earl grey, hot.-
For a long time, I loved that line…why not using it at least once?
-Very well-she moved away with another small smile.
-Sweet, isn’t she?-said the voice behind me.
Without need to turn, I knew who that was…but turned anyway and saw my own face, staring from the reflection on his dark glasses.
If Ray Charles was still alive, someone could have mixed them. Damn, even Ray wasn’t in possession of his mortal belongings, somebody could still think this was him…and the man accompanying him was a living myth anyway, so it would be far from surprising. But I knew better. So…
-Hello, Gabe-I said.
He smiled hearing me mentioning this old nick.
-Hi, Ace…-he replied, his grin turning wider…for some reason, some reason I always suspected Gabe responsible for Carroll’s Cheshire Cat.
-We counted on meeting you here…-he said, pointing on his companion, while they moved to my table-I believe no introduction is necessary…-
-No, we met once before…-I nodded toward man sitting beside him.-Hello, Aron…I see you’re joining the party?-
-Aaron, if you don’t mind-he said with a slow, wide smile crooked to the left-And, yes, I took my deputy badge once again these days…you know, somebody has to sing, if Gabe’s gonna play…-
Now I had to grin.
-A nice touch…-
His smile just grew wider.
-So is that…-he said, pointing on my right hand.
I followed his look to the ring on my hand…it was something he gave me a long time ago…actually, a sort of trade it was, back then. The trade rapidly turning old now.
For a moment, I played with it, then took it off my finger and gave it to him.
-Maybe you would like it back, consider the times?-
-Thank you-he said, taking it from me-Very kind of you…-
-Don’t mention it-I waved my hand.
Slender vision in yellow showed up beside us, before I could say anything else.
-Your tea, ser-she said and then stopped, confused, seeing the three of us sitting together.
-My dear, do you serve sweets …any deserts?-asked Aaron kindly, before her confusion could grow.
She stood there for a moment or two and then smiled, again. It must have been something in the air of the teashop; everybody smiled…even me, all tough it’s not that I had any choice, with my face.
-We have fresh éclairs-she said-Donuts, danish, crème…-
Arron just nodded, not letting her finish.
-Éclairs would be perfect-he said-Bring us…um…guys, you’re in or not?-
-Not for me, I like my tea with…tea-I said, trying to read Gabe’s smile.
Glasses turned toward the girl.
-One fig jam filled roll for me-he said, watching her lips make a little “o”.
-I am very sorry, but I don’t think…-she started.
-The one on the left, if it’s no trouble-Gabe added, pointing with his pinky toward the desert's cooling case.
By the sheer force of impulse, she turned just to spend the next couple of moments looking at the plate filled with fig jam rolls…
-And a dozen chocolate éclairs to go with that-said Aaron after her, while she moved like in trance.
-Ah, a good fig jam filled roll-said Gabe, learning better to his seat-Hadn’t tasted one in quite a while…-
-I bet-I said, just to say something. My mind was on the other side, for a moment wondering about few things…
Rain outside turned to a true shower and a couple of thunders deafen my voice down. Politely waiting until it stopped, I asked question burning in my mind.
-Where is W?-I asked-And the others? I kinda expected them here by now…-
-I believe they were somewhere around when I last checked…You know C never really learned how to manage its cell phone properly…-
-It’s hard to teach the old dog new tricks…but don’t tell him I said that-added Aaron, reaching to take the orders waitress just brought.
She gave him the plates somewhat quickly and moved back even faster. Poor little girl…we managed to properly frighten her. I could only imagine what will become of her in about twenty minutes henceforth!
-Ah, the chocolate-said Aaron, taking the first éclair from the plate, holding it gentle between fingers, before tasting a small bite.
-Perfect-he said quietly, gazing somewhere, in the distance, through the window.
I didn’t want to interrupt his pleasure, but turned to Gabe instead. He picked his roll with a fork, removing tiny bites with the tip of it, eating with certain…grace. Gabe was always graceful, no matter what. No matter when.
I took a sip of my tea. It was hot and strong...just perfect.
Silence was pleasant. Ahh, the rainy afternoons…too bad we ran out of those.
-How long now?-I asked, when they finished eating.
-We came to ask you-said Gabe.
Aaron suddenly returned from thoughts, fixating me kindly with his eyes.
-If you still have the glass…-he said.
I nodded. Still had it? Of course I still had it. And of course he knew that. It was just a polite way to ask for it…
Pulling it out from my coat, I couldn’t help but picking the sound of grains hitting the glass…the sound of time, passing by. Just for a little longer, now.
A little black thing landed on the table with a clatter.
-I believe, not more than ten minutes-I said looking through one of the glasses of the hourglass.
-I hate waiting-he said simply, taking last éclair from the plate-I’ve always hated it…especially this kind. This is like waiting to get off the train…-
-Suitable description-said Gabe with a shine in his eyes-And look, here are the conductors.-
Door opened…they always had a style to enter more conventionally than I did. Well, of course…they had the main roles. I was the one who cleans after…
-Hello-said F, spotting us and raising its skinny hand to greet us, proceeding toward the food cooling case.
-Hi’ya-said C, landing immediately on the chair-Finally! That bloody phone rang and rang, but the button…-
-Was the wrong one, of course-said W, with its usual nonchalance, bowing a little toward Gabe and Aaron and winking at me.
-But until we found out, it stopped ringing Even Gabe has to call it quit after the fifteenth ring…-
-Even me-said Gabe with a grin-Butt, well, it’s not of any matter now. Time is near.-
-Seems to be-said C with some doubt-We are sure this time, right?-
-Very sure-said W, looking at me. I just nodded.
Gabe did it too.
-Don’t you see what’s beside my feet?-he asked, pointing down with his dark glasses.
-Oh…-C stood puzzled for a second-Oh, I see…than, this is our D-Day. Whoa.-
It leaned back in his chair.
-A true one…-it added.
-The one and only-said F, taking a seat next to it. I didn’t have to look toward the food case to know it was empty. Waitress didn’t seem to notice.
-The time for us to take our roles and play our parts-said W, with its usual artistic manners.
It was time for me to nod again.
For a moment, there was a silence while everybody was busy with their own thoughts. I use it to take a sip of tea.
Lowering the mug down, I found Gabe looking at me over it, as reading my thoughts.
-Ready?-he asked, very softly.
I took a deep breath. Well, sort of…
I stood up.
The last grains of sand in the hourglass made their way toward inevitable destiny. I could swear last one landed by hitting the glass with a tiny sound…and that was it. Time ended with a “ping”.
Like on cue, War, Conquer and Famine were on feet, reaching under their coats. Shiny sword of War sparkled under the electric light, a bit outshining the scale of Famine and even the crown of Conquer.
-Going?-asked C over its shoulder, moving toward the door.
-In a moment-I said, showing at Gabe and Aaron with my head-There’s some unfinished business with these two…I’ll catch up.-
-Ok, but don’t be late-it said with a smirk, running out.
-As if it could-added War sarcastically, following and waving shortly to me.
I waved back.
Famine smiled, disappearing through the door. We could hear its voice.
-There’s no time C-it called behind Conquer-It can’t be late if there’s no time…-
Conquer replied somewhat fiercely:-It was a joke, you…-
Last of its words were lost in the giant explosion that came from outside. Similar to earthquake, it shook the teashop like it was made of cardboard…all glasses burst in the firework of light pieces all-over the place and the wave of air in the form of deadly wind hit us.
Screams, including scream of the little waitress came across the room and were muffled by the rolling sound of the glass storm. I heard her fall down behind the bar, gurgling…something must have hit her over the throat. Actually, I knew it was a piece of glass.
I looked at Gabe, but he gazed somewhere undefined.
-It started.-he said simply, bowing and opening the case lying next to him. A beautiful trumpet shined like gold in the light of the little teashop.
He caressed it with his finger shortly, before taking it out of the case completely.
-Will you follow?-he asked and I nodded.
Aaron touched my shoulder for a moment, with a smile of comfort.
-It’ll be ok-he said, stepping out beside the table, following Gabe who was on his way toward the door.
Only now I noticed Aaron’s shoes. They were blue.
He saw me looking and nodded.
-What’s left, but to dance away?-he said, smiling again.
We exited the teashop and stepped on the parking-lot. In these few non-minutes, world turned to hell. More or less literally.
Wind blew, sharp as a knife, carrying the heavy rain and biting pieces of ice. I took a look on the concrete under my feet, seeing crimson ponds creating. Rain of blood. One of the more colorful special effects of Apocalypse.
Above our heads, armies of angels with their faces of fire clashed over the army of daemons, with their faces of fire. Pirotechnique was indescribably incredible and the wind carried hot ash all around.
It didn’t touch us, of course…nothing of this did.
Ignoring the weather and the battle completely, Gabe removed his coat, which left him only in the silk shirt and suspenders …he folded the coat, laying it on the ground neatly, picking up the trumpet.
-Shame for the shirt-he said before taking a few steps from us.
The sound of tearing fabric followed releasing of his mighty wings. He gave a few up-and-down moves, trying it and then took another few steps from us.
Silently, he brought the pipe of the trumpet to his lips and shortly nodded to Aaron.
-On my mark, son…-he said-One, two…and one, two, three, four…-
A long note, pure and beautiful in this chaos, broke thought the air…more followed, quickly, running, and then like a sweet balsam over the wound, Aaron started to sing.
I barely sustained myself from joining in, but it would be highly inappropriate considering my role, so I just remained watching.
With a mighty hit of wings, Gabriel lifted up in the air.
Aaron was pulled behind him, hovering, like a puppet on the string…but this puppet danced on its own. I could spot his blue shoes, while he hit the rhythm in the thin air.
-Oh, when the saints…Oh, when the saints… Oh, when the saints go marching in…-I could hear his soft, deep voice.
Lifting my head, I caught Gabe’s look.
-I’ll follow you soon-I shouted, so he could hear me through the wind and music-Have something to do, first…-
He nodded. For a short time, I watched those two moving over the sky and then turned my way back, returning to the teashop.
She was there, lying behind the bar, in the pond of her own blood. I was right…the glass cut her over the throat, and she was bleeding her life away.
-Please, help…-she modeled soundless words with her lips, eyes full of tears running down her face and hair, mixing with blood.
-I will, child, I will-I said, moving my hand through the air and taking the cold handle of the scythe forming in it
-Now, don’t be frightened…-I whispered softly.
String of her life shone weekly in front of my eyes, no more than gossamer in the air…it was almost broke on its own.
However, I took it gently, between my fingers and swing the scythe above it. Girl in front of me exhaled for the last time.
Then, she took a seat, leaving her mortal body behind and touching the place her throat once was…her eyes widened, seeing my true face for the first time…then she smiled sweetly, once again.
-Thank you-she said..
-De nada-I said, back on my feet, while she slowly disintegrated in the air.
Where did they go? All the time in this work and I never found out. Never will.
-D, come on!-I heard the voice of War somewhere from outside…anywhere, actually.
-I’m coming!-I replied, squeezing the scythe, feeling how good it lies in my hand and moving toward the door.
Only, something caught my eye…for a moment, I hesitated. Then moved for it.
After all, who knows when (if there was “when” anymore) I could get another one…
I took the cup from the table and drunk the last drops of tea from it. As they say, it’s always best on the bottom.
-Coming!-I said once more, running out through the door, facing end of the world.
Outside, the Armageddon was.
Copyright © Maylar 2009