How do you explain to those who slept through the Apocalypse, what the survivors went through?
That Friday had started out like any other day. Having dressed in my best suit, I was seated on the sofa, hands clasped, asking the Lord for assistance, when I heard the front door open. Even before he spoke I knew it was my partner, by the strong acidic smell of cigar smoke.
“Amen!” I concluded, finally opening my eyes, to look at the tall, slightly greying figure of detective inspector Clary Lawrence.
Clearly trying hard not to snicker, Clary said, “Did your Lord give you any helpful hinds on how to survive going into the Lion’s den?”
“He’s your Lord too,” I reminded Clary a lapsed Catholic.
“All right, did Our Lord give us any hints on how to survive going face-to-face with Laughlin and Harkness?” said Clary stressing, “Our”.
“Yes,” I said, getting up and starting toward the door, “don’t lose your faith.”
Clary gawked bug-eyed for a moment, then began braying in laughter as we headed toward the pale blue Fairlane outside.
* * *
“Well, here we are,” said Clary as we stopped a few doors from the tallest building in Melbourne – Hancock Towers. Where the who’s who of Australia’s underworld were gathering for a mobster’s get-together. “The Tower of Babel.”
Seeing the collection of pushers, hit men, TV executives, racing identities, high-class prostitutes and so on, I corrected, “The Tower of Babel was intended to reach up to Heaven. Hancock Towers seems to be heading in the other direction.”
* * *
“Constable,” said the King of Australia’s underworld elite in the twenty-first century, Jonas Harkness, a tall, painfully thin man who reeked of nicotine as though he ate cigarettes like sweets.
“Inspector,” corrected Clary, while I did my best to watch the underworld elite despite the fashionably dim lighting and the best efforts of the disco-ball to dazzle me with bursts of every imaginable colour in turn.
Then suddenly the disco light went off, causing Clary and I to both look up.
“Ladies and gentlemen…” shrieked a baritone voice behind me as Reynard Laughlin – Melbourne personal underworld king, famous for owning TV stations, racehorses, plus his own stable of high-class prostitutes – walked across to our party.
“Clary? Paul? What are you blokes doing here?” he asked with feigned camaraderie.
“Just doing the Lord’s work,” I said.
Instead of the snickers that I got from my police colleagues, Laughlin gave me a look of absolute disgust, as though I had said something obscene. Before he could reply, though, the voice behind us added:
“Suzi Ollerenshaw … and God’s Chicks!”
Then there was a near-ear-splitting female shriek, followed by the sound of eardrum destroying loud rock music.
A squealing audience immediately charged the stage and began snapping off thousands of pictures with their mobile phones, as I turned to the stage in time to see five breath-takingly beautiful women on stage: Suzie Ollerenshaw with pixie-cut black hair, her three cousins Rusty, Wendy, and Debbie Robbins, and behind them Mary Josephs seemed determined to destroy her expensive drum-kit.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!” shrieked Suzi Ollerenshaw again, in case someone had somehow missed her entrance. Then immediately she broke into song:
“Sing a new song to the Lord
“All the nations come on board,
“The Lord is good
“The Lord is kind,
“The Lord has grace
“He blows my-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yind!” shrieked Suzie as I silently prayed to Jehovah to protect my poor eardrums.
“Loud enough for you,” mimed Reynard Laughlin. His grimace suggesting that he was not the one who had booked Australia’s number one Gospel-Metal group.
* * *
As the song finally (thankfully!) neared it’s end, with Suzi shrieking, “My-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yind!” one final time, a gaggle of attendants began to wheel into the hall the largest cake I had ever seen, bringing with it the conflicting smells of vanilla essence and bitter lemon.
“Happy birthday!” everyone (except Clary and I) shouted to Jonas Harkness, as he turned forty-eight on the last day of his life. Suzi Ollerenshaw starting to shriek out what I later found God’s Chicks called, “Happy Birthday Boogie!”
Then the cake exploded!
* * *
Or at least that had been my first impression.
Beside me I smelt the strong aroma of peppermint as Australia’s crime kingpin sipped his Rum-and-pep and then the top exploded off his ornate birthday cake.
“What the…?” cried Clary beside me in a moment of sudden silence as bright orange and yellow bursts of light whooshed from the topless cake, stunning to silence even Suzi Ollerenshaw shrieking out her rendition of, “Happy Birthday!”
“A bomb!” shouted Reynard Laughlin, making the stupidest comment of his near-completed life.
At the mobster’s words pandemonium broke out as the pimps, prostitutes, hitmen and crime lords raced each other for the elevators in the desperate hope of reaching King Street in the few seconds remaining before Hancock Towers disintegrated as smoothly as any controlled implosion I had ever witnessed.
“What is it?” I shrieked to Clary, who like me was trying to inch toward the exploding cake, where a few of the faithful were still snapping photos of Suzi Ollerenshaw and the exploding cake.
On stage I saw Suzi and her group staring gape-eyed at the whooshing yellow-orange lights that burst like an exploding fireworks factory from the top of the mainly cardboard cake.
“We’ve got to help them!” Clary shouted. And I realised that the gospel-metal group were trapped on stage with the exploding cake between them and safety.
We were barely a metre from the yellow-infused stage, when two things happened simultaneously. One, the building finally began to implode downwards. Two, something massive, vaguely human, like a giant black vampire rose from the centre of the cake and fanned wide its great, bat-like wings.
“A vampire!” shrieked Suzi Ollerenshaw, guessing wrongly, a moment before the stage with the five women on it disappeared through the disintegrating floor, taking with it twenty or thirty people on the other side of the stage, who had also been unable to get past the exploding cake.
“Holy…!” said Clary, stopping centimetres from the gaping chasm. Which saved him for perhaps three seconds before the remaining floor vanished beneath us taking Clary, myself, and sundry underworld figures plummeting thirty-nine storeys straight down – to certain death.
* * *
Or so I had thought as the Apocalypse erupted around me. For a second I looked up and saw the cardboard cake begin to fall, leaving the giant black vampire-creature hovering above where it had been. The creature now lit with great bursts of yellowy-orangey light, which seemed to somehow emanate from the creature itself.
Then I hear Clary shrieking beneath me, and I looked down as we accelerated through the tower of death that Hancock Towers had become. Marvelling that I was somehow still alive as King Street, Melbourne race up to meet me, as I knew I was soon to meet my maker.
For moments that seemed a lifetime I wondered at the gritty feel of brick dust against my skin, the cold metallic feel of girders my hands skimmed along in my descent, and the noxious smell of nicotine that still trailed from the late Jonas Harkness.
With a strangely painless explosion, I finally struck the great pile of bricks and girders where the skyscraper had recently stood. And even as thousands of tonnes of rubble poured down upon me, I wondered how I could still be conscious – or was I in a coma-dream?
I wondered for a few seconds if this is what death is really like. Above me I could hear a roaring wind tunnel whooshing as Hancock Towers continued to pour thousands of tonnes of rubble upon me.
‘I must be dead!’ I reasoned, since not only had thirty-nine storeys of rubble landed upon me, but also I was in no pain at all. Surely if somehow I could survive under such a weight of building matter, I would be broken like a shattered doll, in unbearable agony?
For what seemed like hours the dust and detritus continued to fall upon me, making me wheeze as it clogged my lungs, making me realise I could not be dead. Since surely dead men cannot choke on concrete dust?
Then I started to hear voices and realised that I was definitely alive, as people above me began clawing at the rubble to dig out survivors.
As the rubble was pulled away I gradually began to make out words and was astonished to recognise the voice of Clary Lawrence.
“Paul? Paul?” called the voice of Clary – a man who had less chance of being alive than I did – as the big man’s hands broke through the top layer of bricks to reveal my astonished face staring up at him.
“Clary? How?” I tried to say, almost choking on a mouthful of gritty brick dust.
“Don’t try to speak,” said Clary, not only alive and well, but seemingly without a scratch on him.
“Come on,” he called and other rescuers raced across to help Clary to lift me out of the rubble.
As the bricks started to part, I was astonished to see Suzi Ollerenshaw and God’s Chicks standing around like dust-covered zombis and could not help smiling at the thought that the image might be what they needed for their next rock video.
Behind Suzi I could make out seven or eight waiters and waitresses coated in brick-and-concrete dust, yet helping to pull others out of the rubble.
Then, for just a second, behind the waiters, I was sure I spotted someone who I knew … Deni Anders, the widow of a close friend of mine, Tony Anders. Tony Anders had gone through the police academy with Clary and I, until in the final term he had given up and become an investigative reporter instead. His investigations largely surrounded the activities of Jonas Harkness and Reynard Laughlin, whom were both prime suspects in Tony’s brutal murder six weeks earlier.
‘So what was Deni Anders doing at the site where Harkness and Laughlin had just died,’ I wondered. As I began to pass out I half-wondered if Deni could be responsible for the implosion of Hancock Towers, although I realised it would take a team of demolition experts two weeks to set the necessary charges.
* * *
I awakened days later to the smell of iodine, antiseptic, and strong tobacco smoke.
Opening my eyes, I saw that I was in a hospital bed, surrounded by Clary Lawrence and three other cops, all smoking like badly lit chimneys – despite the no smoking signs which lined the sterile white walls like late Christmas decorations.
“You’re alive then,” said Mervyn Hayes, one of the other cops. Turning to Clary, he joked, “I owe you twenty bucks.”
“So, I see is Clary,” I said, choosing to ignore the joke. “But how could either of us survive a fall of thirty-nine storeys … let alone both of us?”
“Don’t think the Lord singled us out for special treatment,” teased Clary. “Suzi Ollerenshaw and the other entertainers all survived, along with the waiting staff, employees of Hancock Towers, elevator operators, and many others…”
“The death toll was high,” said Mervyn, “but nowhere near as high as you would expect. Harkness, Laughlin and all the big-time hoods died, but everyone else survived. Hundreds of people, in fact.”
“But how…?” I said, really thinking aloud. I wondered again if Deni Anders could have had something to do with the blast. But how could she have devised a selective bomb, which mysteriously left so many people alive, despite a thirty-nine-storey fall? And what of the giant black vampire, or whatever it had been, that had soared from the exploding cake. I only wished I had seen it clearly, but the dazzling bursts of whooshing orangey-lemon light had made that impossible.
Despite having had my stomach pumped -- when brought into the hospital three days ago -- I still had a strange gritty taste in my mouth. Like you get when a tooth is getting ready to collapse – only on a grander scale.
Seeing me grimace, Clary said, “I know how you feel. You’re lucky not to crapping bricks the amount of brick dust you swallowed.”
“Delicately put,” I said, making the big man bray his donkey-like laugh.
* * *
I could still taste the brick dust a few days later when I arrive at Russell Street Police Station, and almost wished that like Clary I smoked big smelly cigars – anything would be better than the foul, gritty taste that I was starting to think would never go away.
As I headed toward my workstation, I could see the pixie-cut figure of Suzi Ollerenshaw being interviewed by Mervyn Hayes about her experience in the collapsing tower and her inexplicable survival. Nearby her band members, Rusty, Wendy, Debbie and Mary were also being interviewed.
I wished that I could have sat in, but the powers upstairs had made it plain that Clary, I, and six other cops who had survived the Hancock Towers implosion were not to be involved in the interviews. So, although allowed back to work, we were restricted to other routine duties until further notice.
Spitting a big globule of phlegm and concrete dust into my hanky, I sat at my desk, pleased to see that records had left me the mound of files, which I had requested from my hospital bed.
Lifting the top file, I read, “Anthony Sylvester Anders, Deceased.”
For more than half an hour I sat reading through the file on Tony’s murder. From time to time I stopped to stare hard at the large, colour pictures of his gaunt, dark-haired features, looking a typical anorexia victim, despite having had a near insatiable appetite for fish-and-chips and most fatty, greasy foods.
I picked up a newspaper clipping titled, “The Crucifixion Killing!”
Never very subtle in their quest for readership, Melbourne’s tabloids had seen no reason to tone down the sleaze, just because the victim was one of their own. Yet the unsubtle title was appropriate to Tony’s murder.
I remember Clary and I had been called down to investigate strange noises coming from a disused warehouse:
“See anything?” asked? Clary as, torch in hands, we entered the long, dark warehouse where boxes – hiding places – still proliferated. Either empty, or their contents long since unwanted.
“Nothing …” I started to say, stopping as something at the other end of the warehouse caught in the beam.
“What is it?” asked Clary as we slowly, warily strode across the dirty concrete floor toward the object that showed out in the flashlight beam. But not yet clearly enough to make out.
“I’m … not sure,” I said, even more warily wending my way around the wooden crates and cardboard boxes. Until at last the object was discernable.
A floating man. Hovering a metre off the ground.
“He’s just hovering …?” stated Clary as startled as I. Even my Christian background did not prepare me for this ‘miracle’. A man floating a metre above the dirty grey-white concrete.
As we approached the floating man, Clary said: “Tony? It’s Tony Anders.”
I looked back at Clary in the dark for a second, and then looked back at the hovering figure of Tony Anders, miraculously floating above the ground.
Then seeing the ‘stigmata’ marks in his wrists and ankles, and the thick steel bolts that protruded from them, the awful truth broke through our wall of disbelief.
“Jesus,” said Clary turning away to throw up. As we both realised that Tony had been crucified alive with steel bolts fired through his limbs.
Like our Lord on the cross he had been stripped to the waist and a barbed wire ‘crown of thorns’ had been placed upon his forehead.
* * *
At the time I had wondered if the method of execution was meant as a warning to me. My friendship with Tony and Deni Anders was well known in the underworld, as was my strong religious convictions.
Finally, I decided that I was getting nowhere. So, with the taste of bitter coffee and brick dust in my mouth, I got up to go to talk to Deni Anders and almost collided with Clary Lawrence. Defying the smoking ban in the office, Clary was chortling away on a cigar as though, like me, unable to get the taste of brick dust out of his mouth.
“Going somewhere?” asked Clary, without removing the cigar from his mouth.
“To see Deni Anders,” I said as we started out toward the elevators. Along the way I told him about seeing Deni after being dug out of the rubble.
“So?” asked Clary. “She works part-time with a catering company. Maybe she was there on business.”
“At a function for the two men most likely to have murdered her husband?” I asked as we reached the lifts to start toward Deni’s Collins Street apartment.
As we reached the elevators, however, we were sidetracked by running into – literally – a friend of ours, Mavis Childness – an attractive auburn-haired woman of ruddy complexion in her late forties.
“Oomph!” said Mavis by way of greeting as we collided with her, almost knocking the large cardboard box out of her hands.
“Relic hunting?” teased Clary, knowing that Mavis had been assigned as leader of the excavations at the Hancock Towers site. Although rescuing the survivors had happened in a couple of days, collecting the gangsters’s corpses and other artefacts could take many months.
“You know looters can be legally shot?” I teased her.
After sticking her tongue out at me, Mavis asked, “What’s up? You two seem in a hurry.”
“Gotta see a potential suspect in the Towers case,” explained Clary.
“Personally I hope whoever did it gets away with it,” said Mavis, I suspect articulating the thoughts of most Melburnians. “They’ve virtually rid Australia of all organised crime and major gangs.”
“For now,” said Clary, ever the pragmatist. “But give it two or three months and the vacancy will be filled by the U.S. mobs, the U.K. gangs, the Russian mafia, the Chinese Triads, the Japanese yakusa, and even the real big boys from Sicily.”
“Spoil sport,” said Mavis holding up her box of odds and sods, which were clearly artefacts from Hancock Towers.
“Don’t tell me you came all this way just to bring in a few artefacts from the dig?” teased Clary.
“Yeah, just call me Tea Leoni, Relic Hunter.”
“Actually that’s Tia Carrera,” I corrected, “and she hasn’t been relic hunting for some years now.”
“Maybe she hasn’t, but I have. I’ve found some interesting artefacts.” Holding up the box, she added: “Mobile phones.”
“So what?” asked Clary.
“So mobile phones can take pictures, even short videos.”
“So can cameras … so what?”
“So apparently people were snapping off pix and vids of Suzi Ollerenshaw and her group on stage, when the cake exploded and whatever it was flew out.”
“The giant black vampire,” I said before I could stop myself.
“Exactly,” agreed Mavis. “So, we’re hoping there might be some pix and vids clear enough to show us what the Hell it really was.”
With this revelation, all thought of Deni Anders flew from our heads as we followed Mavis down to the Chief Superintendent’s office where she told him what had been found.
“What the hell are you two doing in this?” the chief said by way of greeting to Clary and I. However, an hour or so later we were all assembled in the viewing room, trying our best to make heads or tails of the video clips screened by the head technician Max – a tall, gawky bloke whose pizza-face made him look fifteen, though he was probably twenty-years older at least.
“Well?” asked the superintendent. “Mavis? Paul? Clary?”
“Well,” mimicked Clary, but the images were all too blurred, or the cameras had been too crushed to access the memory cards.
“What’s that?” asked Mavis, more in hope than expectation as a flickery object started to rise as the cake behind Suzi Ollerenshaw exploded. But then static crisscrossed the image, which quickly faded to nothing before we could see what the giant black vampire really was.
“Can you improve that image?” asked the chief.
“I doubt it,” said tall, lanky Max, who looked as though he would be more at home playing computer games than in the police department.
For another forty-five minutes or so we continued watching broken or static crossed pictures and videos, before Max said in his best Porky Pig imitation, “T-That’s all folks.”
“So much for that,” said Clary as we blinked against the sudden glare as the lights came up.
“Well, back to relic hunting,” said Mavis heading outside. “And back to wherever you two were heading when we collided.”
“Yes, where were you heading?” asked the Chief Super; obviously suspecting we were ferreting around in the Hancock Tower’s case.
After a second’s hesitation, I remembered where we had been headed, and said, “Around to see Deni Anders.”
“Oh yes,” said the chief, “I remember Rayleen said you called for the files on Tony Anders.”
Seemingly satisfied that we were not snooping where we should not be, the superintendent returned to his office as we tried our best to look nonchalant as we headed back to the elevator bays.
Fifteen minutes later we were standing outside room 512 of a Collins Street apartment block, wondering what we would say when Deni opened the door.
Clary knocked on the oaken door hard enough to rapture his knuckles, but there was only silence inside.
“She might be out at her catering job,” said Clary. But almost as he spoke we heard approaching footsteps from within the apartment.
A few seconds later the door opened to reveal the close-cropped redheaded beauty that is Deni Anders.
“Hello,” said Deni with surprising venom in her voice, since Clary and I were long-time family friends.
“Hel…” said Clary, cut off in mid word as Deni said:
“You’ve come then?”
“Come?” I asked, wondering if I looked as half-witted as I felt.
“I thought you would, when I saw you’d spotted me that night.”
“That night?” asked Clary, as though I had not already told him about seeing Deni after being dug out of the rubble.
“At Hancock Towers, the night those scum all died.” she said, standing back to allow us to enter the psychedelic world within her apartment.
“Not everyone there was scum,” corrected Clary as we walked past Deni into her pale-lit living room.
At first I thought the light had blown. Then smelling the cloying aroma of incense and seeing small scented candles floating in a crystal bowl of water, I wondered if poor Deni had suffered a mental breakdown after the murder of her husband.
“All the people who died there were,” responded Deni, obviously sensing my thought, “the good were spared.”
“You…?” asked Clary, looking as gob-smacked as I felt. “Are you saying that you killed them?”
“Of course, isn’t that why you’re here?”
“But, if you did it,” I asked, “how did you arrange it so that none of the good people there died?”
“I left that to the Lord.”
“The Lord?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“Yes, the Lord and I arranged the implosion between us. I because they killed my poor Tony. The Lord because of the blasphemy they committed by crucifying Tony.”
I exchanged a perplexed look with Clary, before asking, “Are you saying the Lord God Above helped you to murder a few hundred gangsters?”
“Of course,” said Deni, her green eyes afire with religious fervour. “Is that so surprising to you, Paul, a religious man. The Lord wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah. He drowned the whole world, except Noah and his family. Why shouldn’t the Lord help to avenge the brutal killing of my beloved Tony?”
For seconds that seemed hours Clary and I stared in silence at Deni, whose eyes seemed to shine with religious madness.
Finally the redhead held out her hands to be cuffed, asking, “Aren’t you going to take me down town for questioning?”
“Er … no,” I said. “Although we may need to speak to you again later.”
Almost rudely we hurried to the front door to make our way back to the corridor – and hopefully the sane world.
“I’m not mad, you bastards!” screamed Deni in a Banshee-killer shriek, which made us both doubt her words.
Struggling to manage the doorknob in his haste to escape, Clary finally yanked the door open and almost leapt out into the corridor.
“Go on, you bastards!” shrieked Deni. “Run away with your tails between your legs. You both make me sick!”
Looking back, startled, I saw her mad eyes staring in hatred. Then, for just a second, they cleared and she seemed her normal self. Her lips pursed as though to apologise. Then the madness returned to her eyes and she slammed the door after us.
Clary and I almost ran to the elevators to set off back to Russell Street.
“So now we have two new suspects,” I said as we raced toward our Fairlane. “Deni Anders and the Lord God Above.”
“We can always arrest Deni,” said Clary as he started the car. “But how the Hell do we arraign the Lord God Above.”
* * *
An hour later we were at our workstations at Russell Street, when a thought occurred to me. Standing to look over the divider from my work area to Clary’s, I asked: ”Just one thing. How did Deni know that only crims died at Hancock Towers? No innocent people. We kept that fact from the press.”
“You told her,” said Clary.
“No, I didn’t. You said not everyone at the party that night was scum….”
“Then Deni said, ‘All the people who died were’!” remembered Clary standing to stare at me.
“Exactly,” I said. We continued staring at each other for a moment, then, grabbed our coats and started back toward the elevator bay.
This time careful to step to the side in time to avoid a collision as the elevator doors slid open and Mavis Childness stepped out carrying another cardboard box.
“The Relic Hunter returns,” said Mavis as we stood aside for her. Holding up the cardboard box, she said, “Want to come and watch some more movies with me?”
“Not even if you buy the popcorn,” said Clary.
“What if I buy you both a large Coke as well?”
“No way,” I insisted, “last time you promised us a main feature and all we got was a Porky Pig cartoon.”
“Not this time,” said Mavis, holding up an obviously intact mobile phone. “This time we’ve found some undamaged phones. Even if the original pix aren’t clear enough, these ones ought to be able to be clarified.”
“What do you think?” asked Clary.
“Only if she buys us a chock ice as well,” I teased.
“You’re on,” she said. So, despite our better judgment we followed Mavis toward the police viewing room again.
“But if you’re lying to us this time, it’s the last time we ever double-date with you,” teased Clary.
“We’ll see about that, handsome,” said Mavis, dropping him a cheeky, sensual wink.
“Well, maybe just once more after this,” said Clary.
“Popcorn? Peanuts? Hotdogs?” said Max, who was now wearing a T-Shirt with a picture of Daffy Duck above the slogan, “You’d better not mess with this little black duck!”
Handing Max the box of mobile phones, she added: “Here’s the main feature.”
“And this time make sure it is a main feature … not just a cartoon,” said Clary.
“Your will to obey,” said Max, almost spilling the mobile phones, as he attempted to salute with the cardboard box in his hands.
“What are you two doing here again?” demanded the Chief Superintendent who was already in the viewing room as we entered.
“Mavis promised us both a chock ice if we took her to see a movie,” said Clary, drawing a hard glare from the Chief.
“As long as you’re not investigating the Hancock Towers case?”
“Absolutely not, sir,” lied Clary as we sat near the front of the viewing room.
We continued wisecracking as Max took the memory cards from the mobile phones and prepared them for viewing on the large, white screen.
The first few videos were too blurred or only showed Suzi Ollerenshaw and her group on stage, making Clary complain about movie shorts.
“And they’re not even three stooges,” I quipped.
Then finally we found what we were looking for. A clear video of Suzi and the exploding cake and the black vampire, which had flown from the cake just before Hancock Towers had imploded. Except the vampire was not black, it was a sort of yellow-golden colour, and, of course, it was not really a vampire.
* * *
So, as they say, the case was solved, but with no one to arrest. No one we possibly could arrest. Deni Anders had been an accomplice of sorts, but even with the memory card evidence we would have been laughed out of court with what we would have had to accuse her of.
So the case was officially marked closed, just like that. And no one was ever brought to trial. For a few months Australia remained free of organised crime, but eventually, as Clary had predicted the space left by the deaths of Jonas Harkness and Reynard Laughlin was filled by crims from Sicily, the U.S.A., China, Russia, Japan, the U.K., et cetura.
After that I tried to forget about Hancock Towers, forget the exploding cardboard birthday cake, forget the giant golden vampire, and even forget Suzi Ollerenshaw and God’s Chicks. Until a year or so later, Clary and I were part of the police protection at another hood’s convention.
Out onto the stage, the MC announced the special guest for the evening, and out strolled Suzi Ollerenshaw and her girls. The innocent looking pixie-cut brunette strolled up to the mike and began to bellow:
“I went down to Rock-and-Roll He-ell
“I went down to Rock-and-Roll He-ell
“I met the Devil, my soul to sal-alve
“I met the Devil, my soul to sal-alve
“Yes, I went down-
“I went down-
“I went down to Rock-
As she shrieked the final, extended, “Hell,” I saw Clary grimace and I think we both recalled that moment our own personal glimpse of Hell.
Or was it a glimpse of Heaven?
* * *
As I said earlier, the first few mobile phone videos had been blurred or had only shown Suzi Ollerenshaw and God’s Chicks.
Then we had come to the first of a number of relatively clear vids, which all showed the same thing.
“Hold onto your hats,” said Max, the chief technician, “I think the main feature is about to start.”
And even as he spoke the cardboard birthday cake exploded and from its centre soared out what on the night had looked like a giant black vampire in the poor lighting. In the video it looked like a human being. But a human being able to hover above the cake, within a blinding golden-yellow light. Light which seemed to originate from the creature itself.
“It can’t be what it…?” said Mavis, leaving the statement unfinished.
“It … It is … I think,” said Max.
In fact there was no doubt of what we were seeing. Glowing with a yellow-golden aura, the manlike creature held up its arms as though calling to the Lord. And from his arms projected two large, glowing golden wings. Like the wings of a dove.
“What is it? An angel?” asked Mavis, immediately staring down at her feet in embarrassment. Although she had articulated all our thoughts.
“It can’t be … it…?” I muttered. Despite my faith in the Lord God Above, I had never really believed that I could see an angel this side of the afterlife.
Then the angel, turned to face us, making us gasp and almost faint, at the sight of the gaunt features of our dead friend, Tony Anders, staring down at us.
“Tony … it can’t be…?” started Clary.
“It is. I am Tony. Or rather I am an angel that was Tony Anders,” explained the angel, speaking to us in real time, out of the video clip somehow.
“But … but how…?” asked Mavis. Either asking how he had returned as an angel; or how he could speak to us now from a video filmed weeks ago.
“After the Great Flood,” explained the angel, “The Lord said that he would never again interfere in the day-to-day workings of Man. But recently the Australian underworld had become too evil. My crucifixion on orders of Harkness and Laughlin was the final straw for the Lord God Above.
“So he sent me back to Earth as an Avenging Angel of Death, to wipe out Harkness, Laughlin and their gangs. But with strict orders only to kill the evil. The Lord God Himself ensured that none of the innocent died when Hancock Towers came down.”
We talked to the angel – I cannot think of it as Tony Anders – for another hour or more. But nothing else needs to be recorded here. As Clary had asked earlier, “How the Hell do we arraign the Lord God Above.” And for that matter how do you arrest the Lord God’s Avenging Angel of Death – particularly when it is speaking to you from a time capsule from the past?
So, the case was marked, “Closed,” and sealed never to be re-opened, by the Chief Commissioner himself.
© Copyright 2012
Philip Roberts, Melbourne, Australia
© Copyright 2016 Philip Roberts. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Science Fiction
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