There But For The Grace by Jeffrey Cook & A.J. Downey
Release Day Blitz
of Heaven and Hell have gone with him. Now, the hounds of Hell are close on his
heels as he fights a desperate battle to keep the keys out of infernal hands,
while trying to reach Earth once again. At least he prevented Adelaide from
being dragged down with him.
possessed by the Angel of Visions, and Iaoel seems to be planning to stay,
regardless of what Addy wants. Now she’s in search of a rogue angel to find a
way into the underworld to rescue Tabbris…
Before all Hell breaks loose…
does it, it’s funny, and almost cute. When you do it, you look like a jock
his lips spread into a giant smile as he struggled not to laugh.
of us, “Michael has asked us not to encourage her crude behavior.”
serene and unblemished as the silver glass of a lake on a calm day. One of the
most peaceful things I had ever seen. I blinked when he answered me, “Yes,
Child… but do remember, Michael is not our father.” He pointed one elegant,
long finger skyward. “He is, and always will be.”
don’t get us at all though, do you?”
harder than others.”
returning to the problem at hand, “How am I supposed to break into a prison?”
a long, lonely stretch of cracked blacktop, the center lines so faded they were
barely there. Two lanes, one in, one out, nothing but scorched and waving
unkempt grass, no more than knee height for almost as far as the eye could see.
Even if a man managed to escape, he’d be easy pickings out in that grass. It
was a sad, lonely, and desolate place to spend your last days. I wondered how
on Earth Haziel had become an inmate here. How the fuck I was going to get in?
Did they even allow death row inmates visitors? I mean, random ones…
old Mercedes, something out of the 1980s, was stopped behind what looked like
the last in a series of chain link gates topped with razor wire, as it trundled
aside. The Mercedes waited until the gate was all the way open, pulled through,
shifted gears and headed up the road in our direction.
highway. They had assured me we were quite invisible to the humans inside the
prison. They said that was one of Raphael’s stronger gifts: to obfuscate. Being
a healer, obfuscation during the heat of battle was kind of a necessity. I’d
asked him why he hadn’t done a better job in the battle beneath Chernobyl and
he’d smiled a little sadly and had told me that with the state of things as
they were, he’d had little to no energy to expend on obfuscation, that he had,
instead, relied on Uriel to defend him and the rest of the healers. It’d made
me a little ill to think of the implications in that. I’d voiced my theory
the Archen fell during such a fight. Our Father, was with us, so it seems.”
coming our direction. The Archangels both looked expectant, and I sighed
inwardly. Not for the first time, I wished that Gabriel were here instead of
these two. Mostly because Gabriel was at least familiar, and we kind of got
each other. I looked from Uriel to Raphael one more time and followed their
eyes to the oncoming Mercedes. The car pulled up, and I looked at the driver, a
priest: black shirt, white collar and all. He turned his head and looked right
at us curiously, before pulling past and driving on. I blinked stupidly. Damn
a sinking feeling.
wanted to smack it off his face.
gathering twilight before turning on the two Archangels.
with a wink, and then they both winked—right out of existence.
suddenly visible to the guards that were mere dots in the towers to either side
of the distant gate. I had to assume I wasn’t, and that I was still hidden from
sight or invisible or whatever when no one came out to investigate When the
shift change came? Well, the cars that passed me by, not a single one of the
occupants turned to look at me, so that confirmed my hypothesis.
myself. I wondered briefly to myself: if you prayed to someone and cursed them
the fuck out in your prayers, would they hear it? I unshouldered my pack,
dropping to sit cross-legged on the edge of the road and prayed to who
I promise, no matter what crap they pull, I’m going to get you out.” I felt
stupid talking to myself, but I had to believe that somehow, some way, he could
hear me. I didn’t know how well prayers travelled to Hell specifically, but I
had to have faith that they did, that he knew I wasn’t giving up.
cover. Of course it couldn’t be a clear night full of stars. Why wouldn’t I get
rained on? Let’s make this whole fucked-up situation as cliché as possible! No
sooner had I thought it, than the first drop splattered against my cheek.
satchel to no avail: nothing that would serve as rain gear, of course. I
cinched up the pack quickly, so at least I might have a dry set of clothes to
change into later, when the slide and snap of nylon against nylon made me jerk
my head up. Gabriel smiled down at me, a large golf umbrella open above us.
my feet. I pulled my pack back up onto my shoulders to keep it off the ground
while the rain pattered down around us, picking up in intensity.
Uriel just left me out here?” I asked.
sighed out. Gabriel, who loved to gender bend with the best of them, had chosen
to show up as a dude this time around and, as always, was impeccably dressed in
a suit and tie.
great, that’s just great… why would he stop for me tomorrow?”
when he can’t do that, and when he finds you here all alone tomorrow… hopefully
his curiosity will get the better of him.”
alone out here in the first place? Why didn’t you guys just say, ‘Hey Addy, when
the priest drives by, flag him down. That’s the dude you need!’ I mean,
wouldn’t that have saved so much more time?” Time. Time that could be better
spent getting Tab out of Hell. I didn’t want to leave him down there any longer
than I had to. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair!
shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. He’d used my name, which meant we were
being super serious, which was good. This was as serious as it got.
be sure. Standing out here was recon as much as anything else. He gave himself
away when he looked at you guys. Truthfully, we’re almost as blind as you in
all this, and your guess is as good as ours.”
umbrella, it was growing so dark that I could barely see the silvery spiderlike
legs of the metal skeleton above us. I prayed for patience, and for Tab to hold
on, but mostly I prayed to God that Haziel would talk to me. Give me a
direction to move forward with. I had to find Tab, I had to help him, and I had
such a feeling of urgency surrounding it all that it wasn’t even funny.
places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s
imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
She’s next. She’s been folded into something that
doesn’t happen – literally. The red-winged Angel of Free Will cares vehemently
about individual agency in human destiny. How much he cares about Addy herself
may be another thing entirely, but at any rate, she has a better chance with
him than with the rest of the Angelic family, Fallen or otherwise.
the Devil himself is considered among the least of their worries, Addy must
find enough moments of calm to unfold the Angel’s Grace inside her, learn from
the visions it provides, and find the keys to Heaven and Hell.
A.J. Downey is a born and raised Seattle, WA Native. She finds inspiration from her surroundings, through the people she meets and likely as a byproduct of way too much caffeine.
Jeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He’s the author of the Dawn of Steam trilogy of alternate-history/emergent Steampunk epistolary novels and of the YA Sci-fi thriller Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets. He is a founding contributing author of Writerpunk Press and has also contributed to a number of role-playing game books for Deep7 Press out of Seattle. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.
I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl