After the end of the world: the eerie silence of the Las Vegas Strip |  World news | The Guardian

Las Vegas, NV

            Bright lights assailed her from all directions, accompanied by the various jingles, jangles, and multitude of sound effects that kept the players interested and gave them something to look at. Women dressed in tight, form-fitting outfits that showed far too much of their bodies in some cases walked by, some of them with painted smiles that did not reach their heavily made-up eyes as trays filled with drinks or empty glasses sat perched on one hand or the other, promising refreshment to come or libations that had been long since consumed and were in need of an intoxicating replacement.

            The scent of desperation, the mixed feelings of hope, despair, and manic energy mixed into a stunning blend that could be felt on the air not unlike the beginning of a skin on a pudding mixture, thick and cloying as the motions of the people around her just barely kept it churning enough to avoid solidifying. And beneath it all, she could sense every dark presence within this place, as well as the irritating light that represented her enemies.

            Those flashes of light that she could see were about to become very dangerous she realized. The only chance she had left in this city would be if Gabe decided that he could track her on his own. If he was anything like the angels she’d met in the past, he would attempt to do things on his own to prove that he could in fact take care of his own duties. But if he was smarter, if he knew when to ask for help, then Vegas was no longer a safe place for her.

            Added to that conundrum was the issue of her mother being here, and being in better health than she had been in years. The old crone must have leeched from a particularly power devil or demon recently, since she no longer looked like the wrinkled old thing that Lenore thought she’d left behind. Instead she had appeared as though she were no older than her forties, meaning that she had indeed found a rather powerful fiend.

            Currently she was walking through the Mandalay Bay, one of the more well-known casinos along the Strip, as well as one of the most outwardly glamorous. She knew very well that the glitz and glam of each casino within city was an illusion, a trick played upon the eyes of those that were eager to pay their money an try their luck. Beneath it was a cold, clinical world that took the money and continued to run on the gathered misery and self-inflicted pain of losing what many humans felt was the key to happiness. The demons that infested this place thrived on this, which was why they were thicker than flies upon a rotting haunch of meat when it came to Sin City.

            As she continued to move forward Lenore became aware of eyes watching her, tracking her, and monitoring her progress. It could have been paranoia, but as she felt the subtle quake within her body, a sure sign that the demons held within were seeking to warn her, or perhaps reach out to others, she turned around, noting at least a few people looking away while the bolder ones of the bunch smirked at her or said nothing, but continued to stare.

            Turning around once again she cursed under her breath. Her time here was up, and a much more profound manner than she’d initially believed.

            Maybe she could work this to her advantage though. Catching the eyes of one of those still staring at her, she inclined her head towards him, noting the dark hair, the brown eyes, and the smooth skin. He couldn’t have been past his 20s, but he was handsome enough. He might even serve as a warning if she were lucky.

                                                            *                      *                      *

            “Can you feel her?” Gabe asked, casting his gaze up and down the Strip. He knew his superiors wouldn’t approve of this, but they were also the ones telling him to think outside the box from time to time. Working alongside one of the demon-touched certainly qualified in his book. People continued to walk past, some of them glancing at the younger man and the older but still elegant woman with the barest of smiles and even smirks. It had been Gladys’ idea to hook her arm through his, to make them appear less suspicious and to ensure that others believed that they belonged here.

            “Pinpointing her is harder in this place,” Gladys said, a small smile touching her lips, “So many of your kind, so many of the others.”

            “Your kind,” he all but growled.

            “Oh, not at all,” she replied, lightly patting him on the arm with her other hand. “I’m not a demon or a devil. I’m simply a receptacle.”

            “A receptacle that can feed off of their energies like a leech.”

            She ‘tsk-ed’ him just once, “No need to be rude. I can siphon off any person I wish,” she said with a grin, “In fact I could siphon off you or any one of these walking corpses around this area if I felt the need to be caught.”

            “How have you not been?”

            The two of them continued to walk, moving around people as they went and watching others move around them. Many were normal humans, some with demons attached, some without, and some with the holy, divine light that she had to squint just a bit to weather as they moved by them. A few even looked disdainfully at Gabe, though he did his best not to notice.

            “Any familiar faces dear?”

            “You need to be silent and find your daughter,” he growled, “I will worry over anyone recognizing me.”

            “It’s curious that there are so many angels here, seeing as how this is Sin City and is so aptly named. One might think that anyone of angelic blood might feel a tad uncomfortable here.”         

            “Shut your mouth before I stick something sharp in it,” he stated, keeping his voice low enough to not be heard.

            “Oooh,” she crooned, cozying up to him. The touch made him want to recoil, but he did not. At this moment Gabe needed her, and she knew this. Once they found the woman’s daughter it would be a different man.

            “You need to find your daughter,” he almost hissed, “We need to find your daughter, and your games are not helping.”

            “I would agree,” she said in a pleasant tone, “But I am not playing games young man. Or are you much older than I am?”

            “I’m a half-breed,” he growled, “I was born-“

            “Oh I don’t really care,” she interrupted, waving him off as Gabe turned to glare at her. The woman was still smiling, as she knew that she had him. He could have easily walked away, but that would mean leaving this woman alone, and it would be that much harder to find her daughter before she did.

            “Gabe?”

            He heard the familiar voice before he saw the one person he hadn’t wanted to see just yet. Turning his gaze to the front again he saw the golden locks, the tan skin, and the blazing blue eyes that he’d been trying to avoid for a while now, ever since he’d been given this assignment in fact.

            “Is this a friend dear?” Glady crooned, still smiling.

            “This is my superior,” he stated in a flat, emotionless voice, “Hello Aubrie.”

            “What’s going on here?” asked Aubrie, the archangel that was his handler, as well as the commander that had been given dominion over Las Vegas some time ago.

            Gabe tried to come up with something to say, but Gladys beat him to it.

            “Hello dear,” Gladys said, extending her right hand as though to shake, “My name is Gladys, and young Gabe here was helping me find my daughter so that we can keep her from hurting anyone else. I understand she’s left a trail in her wake, and I suppose that is my fault. But I am attempting to help your young angel h-rk!”

            Two things happened in a very short amount of time. The air grew very heavy, almost thick, as Gladys thought about it, as Aubrie snapped her fingers once. Then, without warning, Aubrie’s hand was around her throat, and she’d somehow doubled in size as she now towered over Gabe, with Gladys suspended a good six inches off the ground.

            Sizing the woman up, Gladys realized that the archangel had effectively stopped time, as well as manipulated her form, all in a matter seconds. She felt something within her stir, and not just because of the opposing forces she had consumed.

            “Gabe,” Aubrie stated, arching her brows, “I’m waiting for an explanation.”

            “She, she knows where her daughter is,” Gabe said, his wings, normally invisible and tucked away in a manner that any science fiction writer might find interesting, now tucked against his back, showing his hesitancy, and possibly a bit of shame.

            “’She’,” Aubrie said, narrowing her gaze as she eyed Gladys with disdain, “Is a demon-touched, with a particularly nasty spirit in there,” Gladys, still slowly choking, managed to widen her eyes, to which Aubrie replied, “I can smell the difference.”

            “She said she would help me.”          

            “And you made an agreement with this woman?” Aubrie asked. Gladys had to admit, the archangel sounded pissed. But she was about be far less concerned with Gabe, especially as she grasped the woman’s hand in both of hers.

            “What are you doing human?”

            “Mmm, it feels like rain after a drought,” Glady crooned, “Nice and refreshing.”

            “Wha-? Wh-what, are, you doing?!”

            The archangel attempted to toss Gladys to the ground, but the old woman’s grip was sure and strong, the infernal strength she’d taken in allowing her to hold on as the archangel writhed in her grasp, her face taking on one line after another as the energy and vitality seeped from her in an alarming rate. Gladys couldn’t help but feel a bit moist, almost like a maiden awaiting her first experience with a man, and she heard herself titter as she blushed.

            “Gabe!” Aubrie croaked, her body weakening far quicker than one of her status should have, “Get, get her off me!”

            “Shh, just let go,” Gladys said, grinding the woman’s hand now as she continued to sap every last bit of energy she could, leaving the archangel as little more than a dried out husk within a matter of moments as Gabe watched on, horrified as he quickly backed away from the startling scene. This should not have been possible, the energies that sustained an angel, let alone an archangel, should have utterly destroyed this woman, she should have been left in pieces at this time after literally exploding from the force of the energies she was taking in. So how?

            “Well,” Gladys sighed, “I thought for certain that she would have put up more of a fight than that. How disappointing, but refreshing all the same.”

            It was then that she noticed Gabe standing off to the side, the horrified expression having never left his face as he slowly and cautiously turned his gaze towards her. Gladys, looking even younger now, smiled warmly as she beckoned for him to come.

            “What, are you?” Gabe breathed, not moving from where he stood. The time stop was slowly but surely beginning to break down, and as Gladys shrugged her shoulders and started to walk away, Gabe hurried after her. He didn’t want to be around to try and explain the mummified corpse that had been left on the sidewalk. As he came level with Gladys, he could hear the chuckle in her voice as she spoke.

            “I’m not a demon my dear, or an angel. I am a vessel, and after years of consuming your kind and theirs, I am most definitely efficient. Now come little angel, and let’s find my bitch of a daughter, wherever she might be.”

                                                            *                      *                      *

            “N-n-no, sss sstop,” the man beneath her tried to moan, doing his best to reach up and push her off. But Lenore was in complete control as the tendrils of red and black-tinged energy that had seeped up from his form caressed her form, sinking into her flesh without harm as the demonic energies sought to join with those that were already coursing through her veins. She thrust her hips, again, and again, and again, sweat rolling down her body in rivulets as the man fell back, already dying as his body began to shrivel up.

            “No no, not yet you bastard,” she said, grinding her hips as she tried to finish, moaning as the dying man’s member continued to thrust and thrust despite his desire to stop. She grinned maliciously at the simplicity of men, since no matter what they said, their bodies often told the truth.

            It hadn’t been too hard to find a quiet spot where she could work her magic, and the demon driving this once hard and toned individual had been a little too eager to try her. In fact he’d attempted to pounce on Lenore and rape her the moment they’d been away from any and all prying eyes, ripping at her jeans and sliding her shirt up to paw aggressively at her breasts. She’d allowed him to do so, since she’d been moist already, which had allowed the act to take place without any undue pain. When he had noticed the danger though it had been too late, as their sexes had been joined, and she hadn’t been ready to concede just yet.

            She’d actually managed to turn around, not caring that she’d been bending his member as she had lifted her right leg high enough to touch her nose with her knee before rotating her hips over and up, swiveling her leg over before gripping him tightly by the ass, reaching around as she’d thrust herself onto him, not letting go as he’d continued to weaken. It hadn’t taken much to get him down on the ground, and she’d allowed herself to laugh as she’d kept thrusting, taking all of him into her as the transfer of power, of spirits, had begun in earnest, drawing every bit of energy from him as he’d tried to fight her off.

            “Just, a little, more.” She thrust her hips into him with each breath, trying to gain every last bit of energy she could get, twisting her lips as his grotesque, dried-out form writhed beneath her. Standing up she didn’t even bother to wipe herself before pulling her pants up, figuring that he likely had a few dollars on him at least, or a credit card or two, that she could use to purchase a few needed items. The stink of the man, some type of cologne she couldn’t name, clung to her as she searched his pockets, finding a fat wallet in his back right pocket. Thumbing through it she whistled low as she saw a sheaf of $100 bills, along with no less than four pockets filled with credit cards.

            “Looks like you came prepared,” she said to the corpse, which had curled in upon itself already. Seeing something that looked like foil behind the bills she reached into the wide pocket, grimacing as she pulled out a chain of condoms with the word “Magnum” written on each package. Lenore chuckled before saying “Wishful thinking stud, you had about six inches, tops. But don’t feel too bad, you gave me just what I needed for now.”

            “I’m telling you, she’s near. I can feel her.”

            The voice alerted her to the presence of the couple at the end of the dark alley that the man had taken her to, and it also gave her a chance to back out of sight within the doorway they’d come through. She almost hissed in anger at who she saw, but she was slightly confused for a moment as well.

            “Fuck me,” she whispered, trying the door and finding that it had locked behind her. How in the world had her mother and that damned half-breed found her? As she watched from the shadows, the two unlikely allies started to head down the alley. She needed a plan, and quickly.

            “Oh where, oh where has my little girl gone? Oh where, oh where could she be?”

            Her mother’s singing voice hadn’t improved over the years, but as she heard the tune rolling it’s way down the alley Lenore couldn’t help but shudder slightly, thinking that her mother was being confident for a reason. The fact that the half-breed hadn’t killed the bitch yet mean something, but she couldn’t divine what that was at the moment. Sometimes she wished she could be the narrator of the story like the supposed big boss that Gabe served, but that kind of power would probably destroy her, and anyone else that tried to control it.

            “Hey,” whispered a voice in her ear, causing Lenore to stiffen and almost bolt. “No, no don’t run! I’m not here to hurt you, or be hurt by you. I’m a vessel, like you! C’mon!”

            The voice retreated a step or two, causing her to turn around as she saw the open door behind her, the lights beyond glimmering down the hallway that she and her most recent john had traveled before their fateful rendezvous.

            “Who are you?” she whispered back into the darkness.

            “Just come on!” the voice whispered desperately, “You want them to catch you? I sure as shit don’t!”

            There were a couple of options she could exercise here, but none of them appeared that tempting. But at the very least, from the alleyway her mother and Gabe couldn’t have possibly seen the door open, nor could they hear it if she hadn’t. But on the other hand she had no idea who her supposed savior was, and she had no clue as to what they wanted.

            “Fine, get sucked up and shit,” the voice said, the sound of footsteps moving away spurring Lenore to action as she reached out and kept the door open, huddling down as she made her way through. Grabbing the handle she pulled the door shut behind her, standing straight as she beheld her benefactor.

            “You’ve got to be shitting me,” she breathed, “You?”

            If ever there had been someone she wouldn’t have thought would save her, it was the individual standing in front of her now, wearing a ripped and torn pair of blue jeans, a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a shit-eating grin that never appeared to leave his face no matter how often she’d seen him in the past. If he hadn’t proven to be one of the most opportunistic individuals she’d ever met she might have called him a friend, since he had no lover for demons or angels, nor did he care for the eternal war that had gone on between them for so long. Running one hand through his bright white hair, earned after many years of experience and wisdom that had barely touched his handsome features, Abel clucked his tongue once as he nodded.

            “You were expecting my brother maybe? That asshole’s been dead and gone for a while now, and good riddance. It’s still funny to think that the ‘good book’ felt it necessary to put it in there that I was thumped in the head by my brother and didn’t see that shit coming ahead of time. I guess it helps the narrative to kill someone important every now and then.”

            “That’s playing it up a little, isn’t it?” she asked, motioning for him to get walking. “I mean come on, you were free and clear from that point according to the bible.”

            “Shit, you’d think so,” Abel replied, “The only real freedom I had was to be one of the many extras that had to watch his ass when God started sending his angels to fry entire cities or turn people to salt and whatnot. So, what kind of trouble are you in this time?

            “My mom and Gabe are after me, and I get the feeling that my mom might have sucked up someone even more powerful this time. She’s not usually so chipper when she comes after me.”

            “Well, are you getting out of the city or are you gonna stick around and cause a ruckus? Because I’m up for both.”

            She studied him for a moment, thinking that of all the allies she could have found, he was actually preferable in some ways. He was as neutral as could be, but would swing to one side or the other depending on who he was dealing with, and he had more than a little experience dealing with demons and angels. It might have been the last part that clinched the deal in her mind, but something told her there was another reason she decided to nod her head as she said, “I’m not going anywhere.”

The End

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