Pernicious Reckoning

by Nikki Lockwood

Gabriel sat at the bar, waiting patiently for the opportune moment. He’d carefully chosen a seat that had a direct line of sight to their target. They had to make sure. But considering the throbbing, fiery glow he’d detected, there wasn’t much confirmation needed. The target might look like a man, but it was definitely unnatural and shouldn’t have been here. He could hear the man’s boisterous voice, egotistical and misogynistic. He was sitting at a table on the patio, talking compulsively about himself. It was very irritating.

Gabriel watched the man approach the bar with a slight sway and an empty beer glass.

“Dos cervezas,” the man told the bartender. Two beers. Then he looked around and noticed Gabriel.

“Hello,” he said. “I’m sorry, but don’t I know you?”

“No.”

“Yes, yes, I know you.”

“Do you just?” Gabriel said.

“Barcelona, last year. Casa Donista?”

“No, sorry, I didn’t visit Spain last year.”

“Um…. Nicholas, right?”

“No.”

“I’m sure it’s you. I never forget a face.”

“There’s always a first.”

“I don’t make mistakes. I’m sure we met last year.”

“No.”

“Yes, we have – I just can’t place where,” he said. “You’re not going to help me at all?”

“No, because we have never met before.”

“Yes, we have. I remember your face.” The man stared at Gabriel. “Do I know you from back home in New York?”

“No.”

“Damn it, I know I’ve met you before. Do you not remember?”

“I remember every person I have ever meet.”

“You must remember me.”

“No.”

“Then you lie.”

“Lying is for cowards.”

“Guess that makes you a coward.”

“I am no coward. Nor do I lie.”

“Tell me where I know you from!”

“Have you ever been up into the hills of Castilia? That’s the place I visited the last time I was in Spain.”

“Uh, there are plenty of hilly regions here. Even out there -” he gestured beyond the patio, “– there is a hill.”

“Yes, indeed, but Castilia is a particular region that has a lot of history. Are you sure, you’re not familiar with that region?”

“Oh, ha, wait did you say Castilia?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, ha, ha, yes, I know that area. Why?”

“So, you know the history of the region?”

‘No, I don’t.”

“How can you say that?  It’s impossible to visit the area and not see all the visible remains from its history. Don’t you find it the most curious thing, that you say you recognise me, and that you and I are familiar with a region, yet you don’t know its history?”

“I don’t have time for games. I guess I mistook you for someone else.”

The man grabbed his beer.

“I have to get back to my date.”

“Oh, she’ll be fine – even better without you.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, she’d be better off without you.”

“What the hell do you know?”

“Hell.” Gabriel smirked. “Now there’s a precarious thought.”

“You’re a lunatic, mate. Just leave me alone.”

Gabriel stood up, his six-foot-eight stature towering over the man. “Well, see, that’s the thing. I can’t.”

The man retreated a step as a flicker of red glistened in Gabriel’s eyes.

“What the fuck are you?”

“My name is Gabriel, but I used to be known as Sune.”

“Sune, like the sun? What a stupid name. I don’t know anyone called that or Gabriel. Stay back, you freak.”

“You’re half right. We have never met properly, but you saw me once – stared right at me – though it was a long time ago.”

The man gazed at him.

Gabriel commented, “You have such a glow about you. It is a rather orange aura.”

“An orange what?”

Ignoring the question, Gabriel asked, “are you sure you don’t remember me?”

“Uh…”

“Think.”

“I’m trying to. Shut up, will you?”

“You know who I am – you have seen me before. Think.

“Be quiet.” The man said. “Oh, my God.”

“Ah, you remember.”

“Spain.”

“Yes”

“Castilia.”

“Yes.”

“You were standing at the back of the crowded courtyard and I was at the front. But you had wings! I saw you for a moment, and then you disappeared.”

Gabriel nodded and stepped towards the man.

“But – but that was in…1478.” The man’s pupils enlarged. “Who are you?”

“You know who I am.”

“What do you want?”

“History repeats itself, you know – like you do.”

“What are you talking about? I’m a good person.”

“You, a person? That’s funny. Only in the flesh you wear today. By no other measure are you human.”

“I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m not that.”

“The funny thing is, that orange aura I can see it tells me and my brothers something about you.”

“Brothers?”

The man’s head swivelled quickly from side to side, then his eyes returned to Gabriel. “What do you want?”

“Do not try and fight, you’re coming with us.”

“No, I am not.”

There wasn’t much that Gabriel liked about his existence, but this part gave him a small amount of pleasure. “I knew you would say that they always do.”

“They?”

“Still playing the innocent? Okay, then. Demon.”

The man suddenly lifted his fiery eyes, threw his full glass of beer at Gabriel and ran out onto the patio. Gabriel smiled, he knew his brothers would be waiting, ready to capture the demon.

He took a step forward, heading to where his brothers would be, but was abruptly paralysed in breathlessness, as if he’d just been struck by a lightning bolt. With a searing heat in his chest, he felt his heart twist and turn. He gasped for a breath of air, but was unable to take any in. He had never felt anything like it before. He stumbled out the front door, clutching his throat.

And that’s when he heard the voice – menacing but familiar, a whisper from an ancient memory. “She has arrived, Gabriel. You must find her, and she must love you back.”

Gabriel’s lungs clenched, his heart thumped rapidly, and then with a spurt of quick, short breath’s, his lungs relaxed. But it was different – he was different. In his heart.

Right away he felt a pull – an ache, larger than the ache in his soul before this moment. He stood up and a wave of warmth rushed over him. He knew that she had just entered this world by birth, and now his purpose was to find her.

Gabriel wasn’t sure finding her would cure him, but he had to try, anything was better his cursed existence. He had no idea where to start – he didn’t know what she looked like, who she was, or where she was, but he knew that the men who were cursed like him, the ones he called brothers, would help him. He would search forever until he found her, or until she no longer walked this earth.

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