Every Time a Bell Rings
When Elizabeth Ackerly ran into the alleyway, she turned and pressed against the wall. Red and blue lights flew past, shining into the alleyway for only a brief moment. She had been chased over and over again for most of her life, off on a bad foot, as most would kindly put it.
You see, Carrington didn't have many citizens. Located in Elkhart county, Indiana, this town was only comprised of about 7,000 citizens. Elizabeth was the kind of person they all disliked. She was a thief, and had been imprisoned multiple times in her life. Only twenty-five years old, almost all of it was in and out of custody.
The second great war had only ended a year earlier. This was 1946. Where most people celebrated a victory, she just continued living. Filthy cloths covering her, including a brown coat her mother had given her - God rest her soul, everything she owned was either taken, or given to her.
But her thieving was not why she was wanted. Coating her was a thin blanket of snow, but that was not matched by the town as a whole. In fact, around her, was a thick sheet of snow and ice, covering anything and everything. It was cold. It was desperate. The desperate and the freezing do drastic things to get by.
No, this time she had gone too far, at least in sight of witnesses. Placing a small bloody knife in a pocket on the inside of her coat, she covered her face with her hands in disbelief, as another police vehicle, on the search for her, drove past. Houses sat all along the street. Potential witnesses that could have seen her flee into the alleyway. The paranoia began to eat at her.
She wouldn't say she regretted it, but she definitely regretted being seen. She never said she was a saint, not even as Christmas Eve touched into Christmas day. He was in her face. He had assaulted her. If there is one thing you should know, it's that you don't make many friends living that life. When you live in and out of apartments, sometimes outside, your plans don't always work out. Some of of your victims might not like getting mugged. Some might be extremely violent. Even on Christmas Eve.
There were dozens of ways they would recognize her, though. Her long blonde hair, her pale skin and blue eyes, her clothes, and even possibly her height, to name a few. She couldn't find any plausible way out in her head.
There was one thing that never came to mind, though - at least not in any suitable manner. The odd sound of ringing bells. Light, piercing bells, sounding just like the kind that come attached in bulk to a single string for decoration. She couldn't see anyone around her, nor could she hear footsteps. The world around her, in fact, seemed still.
The second she pulled her hands from her face, a blinding flash of light came in front of her, causing her to put them back in place. Though she could hardly make sense of the situation, the light only made her think of one thing.
They found me.
Oddly, instead of the typical "hands up!", all she heard was something she could only relate to a flag violently blowing in the wind. Instead of the cold handcuffs being thrown on her wrists, she only felt warm.
When she pulled her hands away from her face, she saw him. Standing in front of her, was a man well over seven feet tall, covered in a shining white robe. Behind him, two wings, each full of white feathers. When she tried to find his face, all she could find was the skull of a bird on his shoulders.
"Elizabeth Ackerly, thou are visited by the father's angel!" the man said, only feeding her fear.
She would have pulled the knife out of her coat and tried to defend herself, but she was forced to believe him. Not only had he appeared, and not only did his form certainly fit the cliche, but the snow, which should have been falling without a care, was still. Simply floating in place in the air. There was no wind, no sound, and no livelihood in the neighborhood around her.
"Why are you 'ere?" she asked, her heart beating furiously in shock. She couldn't comprehend what was happening, but she had to speak.
"Thou art chosen, by none other than thy king. I have been tasked with delivering the chance of a better life to thou, but first, your story must be given."
"Why story? Why do ya' want my story?"
"To fill the pages, child. Doth thou have the ability to speak thy own past?"
She wasn't about to disobey the will of the angel, especially not in this circumstance. Not all thieves are idiots.
"... Well, I was born in the Big Apple. New York, yeah? I didn't 'ave much help, you know. I was thrown into this world, and fought to survive. Bad upbringin', that sort've story. Made my way down 'ere with some friends, that aren't friends anymore."
"What of yourself now? What do you see when you look around you in this moment?"
She thought hard, but couldn't contain herself. Holding in the perfect balance of fear and regret, she spilled herself out to the angel.
"I've made a mistake! Please, forgive me!" she said, with a tear spawning from each eye, falling on her pale cheeks.
The angel raised his finger to her lips. His touch was warm and brought calm into her soul.
"You've put yourself into a bad situation, child. You will be gifted by thy grace, a chance of redemption. They will not know your face, nor your ability, young one.'"
Taking his finger from her lips, the angel bent to the ground. He grabbed two hands of snow, and brought himself back up. With his right hand, he threw the snow on her face, like a fine powder.
When the snow cleared from her face, there was a new one in its place. He showed her the new face by spreading his now empty hand, opening a small white circular portal, which stunningly allowed a perfect reflection on the other side.
Her blonde hair was replaced with flowing cherry red hair, her cheeks were now rosy, and her skin tone was a more healthy shade, yet still pale. The jawline itself had been reshaped, now a more defined point. Her clothes were no longer dirty, and she could feel that the weight of the knife was gone from her coat's pocket.
"Doth thou desire where the bright portal leads, or where the dark portal leads?" he asked, seemingly rhetorically.
"It's... beautiful. You did this for me?" she questioned.
Without responding, the angel took the snow in his left hand, and raised his right hand. The snow began to glow a bright right, causing her to squint her eyes. The pain eventually grew, to which she shut them fully. When she reopened them, the angel was holding a black book.
The book was of great size, and appeared to be made of some sort of black leather, sewn together with a light red thread. A chain linked around the book twice, in the shape of an "X". Beneath the chain, a deep red design glowed, but what it fully looked like, was impossible to guess.
"This book has the power of both your guilt, and your pleasure. It contains the essence of both malevolence and benevolence. You must use it wisely. Your new start must be used wisely, I might add."
In another great flash, he was gone. The book simply fell straight to the ground. Looking around, she saw the snow fall in front of her. Everything seemed normal. The sound of automobiles and voices of others were heard once more. She heard the rattle of chains, which drew her back to the book. The chains were unraveled, and loosely sitting in the snow around the book.
She walked over and picked it up within both hands at once. It was about a third the size of her body, and weighed about twenty pounds. The red design was that of the Ouroboros, and within the Ouroboros, a crude representation of the brain.
Unsure of how to feel about any of this, she, still filled with adrenaline, carefully walked out of the alleyway.
The Gift of Giving
As she turned around with her new possession, she felt a strange, coursing power run through her arms. She poked her head out of the alleyway and looked both ways. The only person she could see was a single homeless man shoving a near-empty shopping cart.
She opened the book, showing the first page. Printed on a strange, thin, yet leather-like page, just a single word.
As she read it to herself, a heavenly glow came from the page, as the word turned from deep red, to a clean white. Raising from the page and leaving a misty trail behind it, the light worked its way directly across the street from the alleyway.
It was a beautiful house. High end for sure. Bright blue and white coloration, Christmas decorations hung all over it. She couldn't understand what the light was attempting to show her, but she felt an urge. An unplaceable, tormenting urge. The sort of urge only the taboo can truly give a person. She had to get a closer look.
Taking her first cautious step out of the alleyway and onto the sidewalk, the homeless man apparently couldn't see the light at all, as he was looking in her direction, now sitting on the cold, snow covered asphalt.
As she went to take her first step unto the road, she jumped at a car going well over the speed limit speeding past her, nearly hitting her. Cursing to herself, she watched as two police vehicles drove at the same speed past her.
Had they really not noticed her? The angel's change wasn't some sort of cruel joke? She felt joyous, but also filled with curiosity. What of the book?
She ran across the road as fast as she could, before whipping around. The homeless man was in the fetal position, attempting to keep warm. His cart had only a few cans, most of which were most likely empty. She felt terrible. She had been there.
Curiosity beat sympathy, though. Running up to the largest window in the front of the house, she could see a family sitting around a radio, listening to some sort of show. The usual nuclear family, of a father, mother, and a son. Fireplace burning next to them, and a couch next to a staircase going up. It had a nice brown and white interior. A nice piano sat in the hollow place underneath the higher portion of the stairwell. They had a beautiful Christmas tree in the corner between the fireplace and doorway, but back enough the flames did not risk burning it.
The husband was a large man, and would pose a threat very easily. Short brown hair that was all facing the back, he looked like he walked into a gym years ago and never walked out. The wife was just as much as a looker, in her scarlet red dress, with her long ebony hair reaching past her shoulders. Their son, your typical kid. Looked about six. Very short black hair.
When she started imagining all of the things she could find in there, the light came once more from the book, and went around the house. She reluctantly followed. Running between the house and the seemingly vacant house next door, she entered their surprisingly empty backyard. There was a back door entrance, and another window.
Looking in the window, she could see that the room on the other side was the kitchen, and that the family was in the room beyond that, through an empty doorway. The light continued to the door, and she followed.
She couldn't exactly think of what it wanted her to do, but she went with what she assumed. Putting her hand on the doorknob, she attempted to open the door, only to find out it was locked. Pulling her hand away, the light covered the doorknob, before moving into the keyhole.
A faint click was heard, and the doorknob turned by itself. When the door opened, no sound was created. Now, it was obvious what it wanted of her, but she could not piece together why. Why would the angel want her to enter their home uninvited? Was her lifestyle not that evil in his eyes?
Through the questions and confusion, she pressed on. When she entered the house, the door silently pushed itself shut behind her, and the warmth of the house comforted her. A checkered floor was below her, a counter and fridge to her left, and to her right, the entrance to the living room, mistletoe hanging above. She could hear some sort of radio show playing rather loudly, but couldn't focus enough to make out what it was.
Opening the book to the second page this time, she was able to see the text come to the page, seeping down into shape like a formless liquid.
Luke:46 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to."
It was at that moment her wicked little heart came into action. Her brain was in compliance, as she very carefully attempted to grab a knife out of the knife holder beside her.
Just as her hand was about to touch it, a severe pain took her over. It took all of her strength and perseverance to not scream out in agony, but a light squeal did escape her mouth.
There was no way they didn't hear it. She had to act now, with or without a weapon. She was frustrated beyond belief, but that's when she heard a metallic ring right in front of her.
Looking up, she could see the knife floating in the air. She couldn't wrap her head around what was going on, but as she thought of a direction, the knife moved in that way. Now, she felt better.
Without her mind consenting, the refrigerator opened loudly, and a chunk of cold turkey flew towards her, which she caught.
"What the hell was that?" the father exclaimed.
The father. He would be a threat. He appeared to be large and capable.
The book's red, glowing design began to move in its place. The Ouroboros began circling the brain on the leather.
The knife went into the room at a great speed, before only screams could be heard. The wails of the mother and child signified that it was now time to act. Stepping into the living room, she took a bite of the turkey, and leaned against the doorway's right side.
The mother was holding the child, which was attempting to shake the body of the father. There was the kitchen knife, sticking out of his right eye. The familiar blow was covering the front door and windows, which she assumed meant no sound from inside could be heard by the rest of the town, nor could they escape.
"Now'd be the time for'ya to get quiet!"
The mother wrapped her arms around her child as tight as she could, burying his head in her embrace.
"On the couch, now!"
They complied very fast. It wasn't more than a moment before they were both sitting on the couch. The knife flew out of the father's eye socket with a liquid-suction sound, and remained in the air. The look of absolute horror and sadness almost found a place of sympathy in her heart. Almost.
"You," she said, pointing to the mother. "Go get everything worth a penny, or your boy's next, yeah?"
"I won't leave him!" the mother retaliated, holding him even tighter.
The book floated out of Elizabeth's hands, and opened to page three. On it, three names.
Both hands now free, she pointed to the fireplace behind her.
"Unless y'want this to run free, you'll get your ass moving!"
Kissing her son between her tears and sobs, she got up from the couch.
"... Don't hurt him, I beg of you."
She sprinted up the stairs. She grabbed the book with her left hand out of the hair, and pulled it towards herself. Flipping it one page further, to page four, she began to read to herself, amid the woman's loud shuffling of items upstairs.
At the behest of their deaths, their black hearts will first pump red blood. When the void takes their consciousness, their twisted psyche will first dream of paradise. When they are met with the choice, they will originally suffer. The first sin isn't birthed in history, but with each birth, and with the first breath of sentience. That is when he must-
Her reading was cut off by the wife rushing downstairs, holding as much jewelry in her hands as she could cup. She could feel herself begin to be compelled from her left hand, then the rest of her body. The book's glow once again became blue, and the Ouroboros moved around the brain. Speaking in a voice she'd never heard before, she had no power over her speech, nor the manipulation the book would bring.
"WU URU, ALLIK!" said the deep, intimidating voice from her lips.
The jewelry fell from her hands, as she lifted into the air. Her son attempted to run from the room, but he, also, was lifted into the air, facing his mother.
Her dress was peeled off in a single moment, along with everything else covering her, and thrown into the fire, which consumed them. Her cold flesh was revealed, along with her bust.
Struggling to both lower herself and cover her naked body, she was turned upside down, feet in the air. Her legs pulled in opposing directions, until they were practically opposite of each other, flat.
"It hurts, it hurts!" she yelled in panic, as she was pulled in two directions at once.
Then, without any warning, she was slammed upwards, into the ceiling. Her entire body became a liquid collection of gore, with the only solid sections being small collections of the matter left from her organs. The blood did not fall, however. Instead, it stayed, coating the ceiling. The once white, pure ceiling, was now a red show of raw power.
The son was slammed across the room, into the front door. The knife dropped to the ground, but the book remained in flight. The piano, however, opened. A single piece of piano wire tore out of it, and drifted over to Elizabeth.
Before she knew it, it was stretched sideways, between Elizabeth and the boy, at the floating boy's stomach level. It was at this point that she regained control of herself, but a voice was now haunting her head, repeating her name obsessively.
"Elizabeth. Elizabeth. Elizabeth."
The boy was sobbing uncontrollably out of trauma and fear. Nothing in this universe, nor the next, could undo the amount of damage that had been done on him.
"Elizabeth. Elizabeth. Elizabeth."
She made sure the piano wire was straight, and raised it so that it would give a fast death by decapitation.
"Elizabeth. Elizabeth. Elizabeth."
The wire flew forward, before the body and head of the boy fell to the ground.
"You're one of us."
Have a Holy, Jolly Christmas
All of the gore and red ichor fell from the ceiling in one wave. One splash. Everything in the room, Elizabeth and the book included, was coated in the thick product. Out of the fireplace, the heat began to grow exceptionally hot, and the flames began to rampage in their spot. In another burst, the fire stretched outside of the fireplace for just an instant, forcing her to shroud her eyes form the brightness.
When she opened them, the room around her was on fire. There was no way the fire had naturally spread across the room like this, as all four walls were burning, yet none showed signs of having already been burned. When she turned around to run from the scene, even leaving the jewelry behind, she was scared out of her skin by the angel she had seen once before, coming out of a swirling red portal behind her, only his arm, head, and part of his torso being visible. There was only one difference. His once white robe was now a light blue.
He grabbed her by the face with one hand, which covered her face completely, and lifted her into the air.
"You fell to the temptation of the NEKELMU, as thy black heart was beyond corrupt. Your redemption was cast away the moment you acted out of your own will, rather than the father's will. Thou has chosen thy own fate, one which will have you bound as one of the evil spirits within the NEKELMU after you have had the proper punishment for your actions."
She attempted to speak, but his hand muffled any and all words from ever being heard. The NEKELMU, however, repeated her strongest thought, even though dozens of questions were in her mind.
"What kind of angel are you?"
To which, the angel replied:
At that moment, he pulled her into the portal, which closed behind them.
The NEKELMU, however, picked up one last wish from Elizabeth, as she was pulled into the portal. It enacted it, and then fell to the ground. Or rather, through the ground.
As the homeless man saw the fire, he attempted to run away, dragging his cart behind him. A large wind blew, coating both him, and his cart, in snow.
When the snow cleared, he was wearing a thick winter coat, along with padded pants. His pockets full of the jewelry on the floor that was presented to Elizabeth.
When he turned around to grab his cart amid the shock, he screamed in joy, thanking God for his new bounty.
It was now full of new canned food and supplies.
Written by ShawnCognitionCP