La Trama Se Espese

The tour bus rumbled through the dry plain, stirring up clouds of dust as it went. Relash sat in the driver’s seat, hunched over in concentration as he urged the bus forward. The dreariness of the landscape worried him; it was a shimmering sea of cream colored sand as far as he could see. The last vestiges of life he’d seen were a cluster of bramble bushes, nearly twenty minutes behind them. He floored the gas to compensate for the lack of friction between the tires and the shifting sand underneath them. It was a miracle that the bus was even moving at all, meanwhile he continued to push to see if the worlds would part for him to open a portal but frustratingly, the veil between worlds remained resolutely shut to him. He could hear snatches of conversation from beyond the plexi-glass door that separated the front of the bus and the living quarters. Hildenstein, the character they’d been ordered to pick up from his mundane suburban nightmare and ferry here and Desire seemed to playing some sort of game of flirt and tease. Hildenstein seemed to be winning, because Desire’s giggles were becoming more and more high pitched. Relash rolled his eyes, he could only imagine what Somnus thought of all that; Hildenstein supposedly being the Anti-Christ and all that. The beeps on the GPS tracker that sat beside the steering wheel began to beep as the bus approached the spot Foster had previously communicated to him. Relash slowed down the bus, more out of caution than anything, the most unassuming of places usually turned out to be the most dangerous. The bus had gone silent, and even his limited Extra Sensory abilities had begun to tingle with caution. They were approaching one of the oldest Ley-line intersections, a place of primal power that probably predated religion itself. The GPS’s beeping hurried into a continuous drone as Relash guided the massive bus into the exact point Foster had instructed.
“Guys, get off your frigging beds, we’re here!” Relash announced.
“Guys?!!!!”

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Sam gripped the metal protrusion in the corner of the all terrain SUV as Desire piloted it into a small ravine. He’d been perched the left passenger corner for the last twelve hours watching Desire, Somnus, Titaenium and Relash interact. This was their third day together since the interaction with Lilith and he was only beginning to understand the severity of the situation. The band kept whispering around him and growing silent whenever he walked in on them conspiring. It had happened in the Hotel at Bangkok and again at the baggage claim in Huang Dong. He’d begun to change too. With each plane and bus and the occasional stolen rickshaw ride, he’d felt himself change subtly into more. His sight had heightened as well as his hearing. He was also beginning to sense beings, human and otherwise.
“This is the place!” Somnus called from the shotgun seat.
He had a scarf tied around his mouth so his speech was muffled. “We’re almost there, I can sense the creepiness like a stench.”
Sam nodded, a now slightly brown handkerchief held over his mouth. He could sense it too. There was life, but not in any discernable way and the energy of this ‘life’ was strong enough to keep away every other creature. He could sense nothing else for miles. He kept this information to himself though, his trust in Pass the salt had started to wane from the moment he met them and discovered they knew his ex, Desire. As his awareness grew, his distrust of them increased, until now, he couldn’t wait for the 4×4 to stop moving so he could leave them. Somnus was normal but everyone else, they were abnormal, they felt human but not quite, almost like….
CRASH!!!!
The truck swerved violent and skidded before being brusquely stopped by an embankment, kicking up a cloud of fine sand. Sam doubled over in pain; his ears hurt terribly, some kind of white noise. He felt a hand grope for his arm and he reached out and grabbed it, keeping his eyes tightly shut and following the lead of whoever it was. He stumbled a bit and fell forward into the one guiding him. He felt himself get helped up and opened his eyes. It was Somnus, bloody eyed and shirtless, he was looking at the truck around which the cloud of sand had settled into a thin off white coat. Relash and Titaenium and Desire were nowhere in sight.
__________________________________________

I body slammed the plexi-glass door open and fell into the residential cabin. Hildenstein was standing in the middle of the room, eyes saucers wide, staring at nothing. I called to him, once, twice but he just stood there, staring. Rage welled in me, was this supposed to be the rumored Anti-frigging Christ? He just stood there, shocked into a salt statue by whatever had happened here? I walked up to him and backhanded him, my skull ring connecting with his cheekbone and reviving him faster than a bucket of ice.
“Who? What? She…” He sputtered, drooling from his cheek. Must have drawn blood.
I grabbed the front of his polo shirt and jacked him up with it. “Are you all here or do you need another pick me up?”
He nodded faster than a humming bird.
“I’ll only ask once, WHAT. THE. FUCK. HAPPENED. TO. MY. BAND?”
“I swear I didn’t do anything, we were all sitting here chatting when they all became sort of translucent and hollow-y before they disappeared all together.”
I held him for a few more seconds and scanned the room for any residual portal magic, nothing grabbed at my attention. I released my grip and he fell into a shivering heap. I cursed, we’d all been accommodating of the little sop because we thought he was the Anti-Christ and right now he was as intimidating as a middle school kid surrounding by a clique of bullies. I grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt and pushed him in front of me. I pushed him to the slide door and pushed him out into the desert plain.
“Hurry the fuck up!” I called as I stomped off the bus, dragging him behind me, “We’re going for a little walk, to find someone who has answers, and beat it the fuck out of them.”

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Looking out at her kingdom all calm and natural, oblivious to the turmoil that was about to begin just outside its walls; Lilith looked out at all she owned and was lord over from her temple at the top of her Aztec inspired pyramid. She shifted forms, losing her barely there gossamer nightdress for a Grecian dress, a liquid glittery aquamarine sheath that turned her body into a colonnade of reflective light. She snapped her hands and her sentinels approached, lithe women in enameled breastplates and arm braces made of beaten bronzed panels tinged with verdigris from disuse. Some still carried crests, distinctive of roman craftsmanship. Her metal smiths had beaten the armor out of the tributes of copper trinkets, jewelry and crockery that those greedy roman diplomats under the urging of their recently conquered Grecian slaves all those centuries ago. They had foolishly changed her alias then from Aphrodite to Venus and commissioned offerings of copper while they adorned their noses, ears, nipples and scrota with the conquered gold that should have been rightfully hers. She paid them no mind, those who worshipped the old ways knew that Lilith always repaid slights. And she’d repaid, terribly, in full. They all went down to a knee and she bellowed her final orders, ending with a final admonition.
“Spread the word, all warriors at their stations. Guard the fortress. None shall enter till I return.”
There was the clattering of steel against metal as the phalanx of guards banged gauntlets to breastplates in salute before dispersing, each to take up station at the spots they’d trained to guard for decades. Lilith’s harem was fidgety as they preened and groomed each other, even the oldest of them couldn’t remember a time where she bothered to leave her realm in her true celestial form. She silenced the murmuring with a look and finished her preparations by pulling on Herman sandals and a short spear that pulsed with an inner luminescence. Even from here, she could feel the power that pulsed from the temporal realm. The celestial and infernal armies were gathering. The time had come. She called for her chariot, she had a massive Bentley town car as well as a fleet of vehicles dating back to one of the first commercially sold cars in 1887 but the beings she was going to see wouldn’t be impressed by clunky things like automobiles. Her carriage pulled aside her temple, the mistral horses that pulled it hovering above ground as they neighed and pawed at thin air with their hooves. She calmed death; the oldest of the mares, standing two hands taller than the rest of the team. It neighed softly at her touch and the bristling subsided. Lilith threw herself onto the mare’s saddle-less back and cut the reins that held her to the chariot with a careless ribbon of power. Fisting a swath of mane, she kicked the mare into a gallop and steered her towards the portal, out into the mundane world, to meet ancient foes and sometimes friends.

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