“Why didn’t it work?”
Archangel asked quietly. He could feel his control teetering, like a wine glass
wobbling on the moment before it fell and shattered everywhere. Red wine,
everywhere, impossible to scrub out of the perfect white tablecloth and his
parents livid at the scene of it all.
He rounded on Isaac.
“Why didn’t it work?”
“You said her mind
might be dreamy – difficult for you to tap into.” Isaac’s jaw clenched. “It’s
not my fault.”
There had to be some
way to get in her head, there absolutely had to be. She couldn’t be immune to
him completely. Even Isaac wasn’t immune to him, and he was maintaining an
impressive level of silence for someone who wasn’t actually dead. Blocked off.
Distorted. That wasn’t Isaac’s power,
even. Archangel’s eyes narrowed. He could get flashes of past days, painful
memories, but nothing now. He
couldn’t snatch control Isaac’s mind and bend him to his will like a boy made
of clay. Nothing since the day he ‘died’.
“How did you turn your
thoughts off?” he asked softly. His mind ran over mad ideas, of flawless
androids and zombies born again to life. “A pulse point can be faked, blood can
be faked, but your thoughts…”
“Well, she was
obviously on his side – they seemed good
friends,” Spring bit out. “Morphina might have done something, if you can’t get
in either of their heads.”
Archangel played the
scene over and over in his head like the nauseous wheeling of a spinning
fair-ground ride, always returning to the same flashes of sickening colour.
“Isaac. Tell me how you
did it.” The urge to pounce on his head swelled, but he’d promised and he
didn’t want to fail in front of Sanna and Spring. “This is all to do with you –
Morphina she – she’ll kill them -” He struggled to organise his thoughts.
“She what?” The colour
drained from Spring’s face. “She’ll kill what? What? No! No, she can’t. You
spoke to her? What exactly did she say? I thought it didn’t work, that she
didn’t come here!”
Archangel kept his gaze
locked on Isaac. A clammy unease swept at him, and his headache throbbed behind
his temples. Burned in his eyes. Tugged at every inch of him.
snapped and surged forwards, seizing his wrist and giving him an impatient
shake. “What did she say?”
He truly must have
looked pathetic because something in Isaac’s expression gave a little.
“Is this a discussion you want to be having with me publically?”
“He has nothing to hide
from us,” Spring snapped. “One of you just spit it out. Is my sister in danger?
How much time do we have?”
Her thoughts prickled
at him again, her emotions an agitated spew that made Archangel’s skin crawl
with the sheer force of it. His blood began to boil.
Sanna crossed the room,
the only one of their seeming untouched by sleep-deprivation or injury, and
brushed a hand over his temple. The headache eased. He could think; at least
for the few moments where her fingers soothed the pain away. His shoulders
Isaac folded his arms
across his chest and god, Archangel
knew that he wasn’t helpless but his hoodie swamped him and he was so pale that
he looked like the most vulnerable creature on earth all hunched up
protectively around himself like that.
“You haven’t figured it
out?” Isaac’s lips twisted. “You really must be tired.”
“Don’t mock me.”
“I’m not mocking you,”
Isaac said. “She deals in dreams, in nightmares. She makes nightmares come to
life, that’s literally what she does. What’s your biggest fear, Gabriel?”
being able to save anyone, no matter how hard I try.
“I magnify you, when
you touch me,” Isaac said. “Your power is in your mind. So is hers. You may be
more powerful than her when you have me, but that doesn’t mean she can’t use
your powers against you when you’re terrified. The greater your fear, the
stronger she gets, right?”
“And I feared failure,”
Archangel said. More to the point, he’d feared Isaac’s death so long ago. “She
was there. On campus.” His ears buzzed
and the rest of the room felt like it had ceased to exist, as he stared at
Why now? Why here? What had happened six months ago
that could possibly start this? Make her attack now if for years she’d been
silent, providing she’d truly been there so long ago?
Six months ago – Morphina learned that Gabriel knew
Isaac Morton was still alive.
Archangel’s insides curdled.
her side.” Was that why it didn’t work? Isaac sabotaging him all along,
muffling his powers perhaps, sedating them. “She’s killing us, and you’re on
her side. Do you really hate me that much?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, I’m not on her side. Or maybe I
am. Brain like yours and a power like hers you could probably dream that in to
reality.” Isaac glared at him. “She wanted me in exchange for her hostages,
right? Second she said that, you panicked, and whoops there’s goes our plan
because that’s your nightmares come to life right there.” Isaac
shook his head, laughed that awful laugh again. “Great going after lecturing us
about controlling our emotions. Really, Gabe. I’m impressed.”
“You’re a spiteful little prick these days, aren’t
He couldn’t use his powers on himself, his control
over his thoughts was as mediocre as everyone else’s if not even less so with
the amount of traffic wandering around his synapses and Isaac bloody well knew
it. He couldn’t go near Morphina without being
terrified. It was a sickening thought – a punch in the throat. And he couldn’t
lose Isaac again, he simply couldn’t stomach it. Not again. And there was
Isaac, knowing that, and sneering anyway.
“I thought you wanted me to be more like you?” Isaac
Archangel snarled, wordlessly, and lost it.
Isaac staggered, clutching his head. Turned wild eyes on Archangel and
pounced, this time making a beeline for skin contact. Vicious and angry
and oh Isaac liked to pretend that he
was such a goddamn pacifist didn’t he, but here now-Archangel caught his
wrists by the sleeves, grappling.
“Stop it!” Sanna snapped. “Both of you stop it!”
Spring’s vines wrapped around them and hurled them
bodily apart, panting. It was enough. Both of their abilities cut and left a
“You’re acting like bickering children,” Sanna said
with a cold disgust. “It’s not about whose fault this is or isn’t, or what did
or didn’t happen that you’re not telling us about. We have to work together.
isn’t like you.
The shame crept over him, as cold and slimy as a raw
egg cracked on the back of his neck beneath their stares. He was supposed to be
their leader, and here he was tousling like a schoolyard boy. He straightened
just in time to catch the tail end of Isaac vanishing out of the door.
He took a few steps after him.
Spring’s vine caught around his torso and he rounded
on her next, eyes ablaze. She stared him down with a silent don’t you dare. “Tell me about the hostages.”
“Spring.” Sanna touched her wrist again, exhaling a
breath. “You too. We have to calm down, none of us have slept for days. We can’t
afford to start fighting among ourselves it’s probably exactly what she wants.”
She looked over at Archangel next. “Your Magnifier can stew for a bit, it’s not
like he can leave.”
“He’s not my Magnifier-“ His chest stung and his
temper flared again.
“-Don’t start,” she warned.
He fell silent and grit his teeth. “Sorry.” He
rubbed a hand over his face and released a breath too, made a show of letting the
tension ease out of his posture. “Fuck, sorry.”
The silence stretched for a few beats, nothing like
the companionable thing it used to be.
“I’m going to make us some more coffee,” Spring said
Morphina’s lair didn’t
rise out of King’s College like a nightmare version of Maleficent’s castle.
There was no maze of thorns (not that it would be a problem for Spring if there
was) or dragons to slay and, although Archangel’s exhaustion was grateful for
that, another part of him was just a little bit disappointed at these facts.
Morphina’s lair was a medium-sized, rundown house a few minutes’ walk from
Newmarket town centre. There wasn’t even a spiky fence that they had to scale.
“Ugh,” Spring said. “It
“Did you know.” Sanna in
her radiant invincibility stepped first through the gap in the hedge, eyeing
the overgrown grass. “That in New York a property seller is legally required to
tell you if the property you’re inspecting is believed to be haunted.”
Isaac’s wrist and scanned the building for any signs of life or presence.
“She’s there. Be careful.” He was fairly certain. His headache had sprung to
life again, and there was something in
the house. He didn’t believe in ghosts or hauntings so it had to be her, and
her dreamy and nebulous mind. “Don’t give her time to try anything, and try and
stay calm. Isaac, are you sure-”
“Go anywhere near my
emotions and I’ll walk away and let her have you.” He followed after Sanna,
dragging Archangel with him.
“Your loyalty is
inspiring,” Spring snapped. She took up the flank, her vines rising
protectively around them. She felt exposed, even if Archangel muffled her fear.
Half of their team was still out for the count and what could Sanna’s pain do
against a nightmare? And what could a telepath do against a mindless horror?
No nightmares scuttled
out to greet them and the only stirring in the grass was the light breeze. The
door opened easily. It all seemed too easy.
Pale shafts of sunlight
filtered in through the front door, catching the edges of a coat stand and
stairs leading up to the second floor. There was no dust. The air smelled
stale, a little chemical perhaps.
Archangel strained to
pinpoint anything – anything – from
They exchanged looks
and stepped further into the building.
The door slammed shut
behind them. The hiss of gas filled the room.
began. He entirely lost his trail of thoughts as he slumped to the ground, head
going cloudy. His body succumbed only too happily, gratefully, to sleep.
“My god, you’re
dramatic aren’t you?”Morphina’s voice drifted over him. She looked around herself with interest.
Archangel jolted –
well, presumably not awake. His wrists caught on unforgiving metal straps.
“I suppose I should be
pleased that you don’t have me in a skin tight leather cat-suit, complete with
a window for my heaving bosom.,” she continued. Her lip curled. “That’s one
good thing about a gay superhero. Less of the god-awful straight male gaze
stereotypes.” She stopped next to the table he was pinned down to, like a
specimen to be dissected. “Or maybe me in a cat-suit is a nightmare for you –
you’d rather it was Isaac.” She gave a cheery little shrug. Her eyes, as dark
and cavernous as they were in the photographs, stayed cold.
She wore a billowing
black ball gown, lavish enough to be a wedding dress. He supposed she could
imagine whatever the hell she fancied into existence, here.
The room around him
looked like a mad scientist’s labatory. Cold steel and whirring machines, nothing
living and thinking for Archangel to grab onto at all. His breathing quickened
and his gaze darted back to her.
His head had gone terrifyingly
silent, with only his own thoughts for company. As alone in the world as if the
world had died.
“You have a very vivid
imagination, Gabriel,” she said. As if she was talking to a goddamn toddler. “You
always have done, though of course the room isn’t the scary part. But I thought
you’d appreciate it. I was debating between playing the stereotypical
supervillain for you, or maybe going all Miss Havisham with the ghosts of dead
superheroes past. What do you think?”
Archangel managed to
find his voice. “You knew that we were coming.”
Comic book heroes often are.”
“This isn’t a comic
“No, but you wish it
was. Save the world and get the boy, right?”
Archangel’s jaw clenched.
He didn’t consider himself to be a particularly violent person, but the urge to
smash that crocodile-smile off her lips swelled in his throat like vomit and
itched in his palms like a rash. “Real
people are getting hurt.”
“Real people are always
getting hurt,” she replied. Her smile vanished. “I’m merely levelling the
playing field out again.”
“By murdering children?”
“By ridding the world
of super-powers and presumptuous pricks like you who have the unfortunate
influence to complement their overwhelming saviour complex.” Morphina’s
expression turned earnest, just for a moment. Her fingers curled on the edge of
the table. “Don’t you think it’s bad enough when men created guns and nuclear
weapons? Do you really think the world needs more power in the wrong hands?”
She studied his face.
“Says the woman who can
bring nightmares to life and create whole worlds with her mind,” Archangel
snapped. The goddamn hypocrisy of her! “I’m not the wrong hands.”
shuttered again and she straightened, turning away from him. “The wrong hands
always say that.”
Archangel exhaled a
breath through his teeth, wrists twisting against the shackles. Nothing. Fuck,
he hated his brain – theoretically, he should be able to take control, he knew
he was dreaming after all. But this didn’t feel quite like dreaming as much as
it didn’t feel like reality. The corners of the room fogged when he didn’t
watch them. The fear tightened, helplessly, in the pit of his stomach. “What
have you done with the others?”
“Isaac insists you’re
not a bad person,” she murmured. “That you’re honestly trying to make the world
a better place. Misguided, but good. He asked me to spare you, begged me actually.”
flipped at that.
“The thing is,”
Morphina snapped her fingers, “I really don’t care about your good intentions.” A death ray appeared and whirred
into action, all spinning effects and bad graphics and rather like a punch in
But it wasn’t possible
to actually die in a dream, right?
“What have you done
with my friends?” His voice rose. He scrabbled at the empty spaces of her mind,
searching for any threads or scraps – Isaac, Spring, Sanna. It didn’t end here.
They didn’t die here.
“Just because you have
good intentions doesn’t mean you’re not a horrible person. You’re a telepath,
you must know that.”
“You can’t kill me in a
“No,” she said. “But it’s
a lot more satisfying than just punching you in the face.” She turned to face him again, and her voice had gone quiet. “You dismiss how
scared you make people, Gabriel De Vere. Let me show you. If you like, we can even call it justice.”
And, in an instant, he was five years ago and in their bedroom.
Do you know when you'll be updating The God Key? It's really great so far and I can't wait to learn more about the characters!
I don’t know. I don’t write in order is the problem, I skip around the plot and then fill in the gaps, which means even if I have been writing it’s not necessarily the next chapter. But it’s coming along. The plot is starting to shape.
But have a snippet anyway because I’m excited.
alternative would you propose?” Archangel asked. “For someone who hates my
idea, you’re not offering any of your own. But I suppose that would mean having
an opinion on the future beyond ‘everyone gets an opinion.’”
Isaac glared at him.
“Prisons?” Archangel suggested relentlessly. “Who the
fuck are they serving? I could reform in a second what they claim to try and
spend a lifetime doing, only to toss their charges back out and straight into a
prison pipeline loop that they can’t escape from.” He leaned in, eyes aglow, so
close to utopia that he could taste it. “I could be that escape.” How could
Isaac not see that?
“What you’re talking about is mind control, not
“Anyone you don’t think good enough gets blanked and
changed to fit what you think is the proper way to live,” Isaac snapped. “Some
fucking guidance. You know, there are people out there that say love should
only be between a man and a woman too and that anything else is just wrong.
That people like us need guidance.”
“That’s completely different.” Archangel waved a
dismissive hand. “They’re not telepaths, they are blind and see the truth of nothing.
With you, Isaac…” Gabriel’s voice softened. “With you, I can see everything.”
“If you like.”
“Jesus fucking Christ, De Vere.” Isaac looked at him
as if he were suggesting drowning puppies, rather than salvation, redemption. A
slight green tinge spread across his cheeks.
“You would prefer the days of Capital Punishment?”
Archangel kept his voice gentle, patient. Reminded himself again,
painstakingly, that Isaac’s ignorance and his stubbornness was not his fault.
He didn’t do it to be bad. “You would
prefer perhaps, like Morphina, to kill those you disagree with instead of
reforming them? Rehabilitating? Or maybe we should leave the rapists and the
murderers to it to express their free will. They’re only doing what they think
is right, you know.”
“Don’t twist my words!” Isaac drew in a calming
breath, drawing more and more into himself. Shoulders hunching like a crumbling
fortress wall. “I disagree,” he continued in a steadier voice, “with prescribing
personal views and beliefs universally. We have no way of knowing what is truly
right. You’re not divine, Gabriel. You grew up in bloody Huntingdon.”
“Jesus was born in a stable.” He said it mostly to
flush Isaac’s cheeks with anger instead of that pale nausea, to see Isaac’s
passion flare again as he shot Gabriel a filthy look. Still, his chest ached.
It would have been wonderful to have Isaac on his side, but he couldn’t expect
it without further persuasion. Isaac, for all of his power and breath-taking
possibility, was no telepath. He didn’t see the world like Archangel did. He
was only human, however splendid. “But that is beside the point. Do you not
think, as humans, we have a moral obligation to help as many we can? To save as
many people as we can?”
“Sometimes it’s just not your business.”
“Not my business has always been the motto of
cowards too scared to do what’s right.” He stared Isaac down all the same, only
for Isaac’s gaze – like his mind – to slide away like an oil slick on water.
“You know I can’t go along with this, won’t go along with this.” Isaac’s jaw
set in a hard line. “And you promised to let me go. So there’s no point talking
about this.” He had the look of a man desperately trying to figure out what a
man with a gun to their head was thinking. “We get rid of Morphina. We’re done.”
Archangel touched his cheek, just once, and felt him
“I promised, didn’t I?”
Isaac squeezed his
eyes shut. Trembled for a half a moment, teetering like a glass about to
shatter on the edge of the table. Then, he turned and walked away.
Of course he did. Walking away from problems was what Isaac Morton did best.
The faint rain after an intense and powerful dance
The whole days and she lingers and the playful sounds inexorably soft damp…
The nature and its flowers in the night, that open but always its sensation,-MMM- I hear in her the rhythm of the music of all times always there…
Transparent with night and stars … If only the night with you