Angel fire, p.92
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       Angel Fire, p.92

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
 
Page 92

 

  As he watched, one of the woman’s hands left the top of the balustrade and pressed something underneath it. She rose and walked quickly away.

  Seb’s skin crawled with sudden apprehension. Turning, he saw at least ten people with similar auras, all of them now hurrying towards one of the side exits. The woman was running now. A man spun around as he reached the door and shouted, “El DF is dying! Funds for doctors, not angels!”

  As the first explosion rocked the cathedral, Seb lunged for Willow, tackling her to the ground and shielding her with his body. He heard her cry out and closed his eyes tightly as another explosion came, and then another. Things were pattering to the floor around them; something small and hard bounced off Seb’s back. The smell of smoke – Willow’s body trembling under his. Shrieks of fear and pain, mixing with the thunder.

  Finally the explosions stopped.

  Screams echoed through the cathedral as the congregation started stampeding for the doors. Seb dared a glance up and saw pews and bodies lying twisted and tangled; debris; the golden altar blackened. The man in the business suit sat slumped against the splintered balustrade, covered in blood. The young preacher lay motionless, half his head blown away. Seb had barely taken it in when a flock of angels with furious faces streamed out through the wall from the office area. They circled once in the smoky air and then angled up and out, vanishing through the high ceiling.

  Urgency pounded at him; they had to get out of here. He struggled to his feet, helping Willow up – she was pale and shaking. Looking back at the entrance, his gaze somehow found Mike sprawled across a pew, obviously dead. Mike. Seb stared, stunned, wondering fleetingly if Céline and the others were all right. He couldn’t tell; the main entrance had turned into a seething mass of people, screaming and struggling to escape.

  Suddenly a stained-glass window shattered inwards, the glass angels splintering as the crowd outside battered something through its panes. “El DF is dying! Let the angels die too!”

  Willow stood staring at the preacher, tears running down her smoke-smudged face. Seb grabbed her hand, pulling her after him as he started running towards the back of the cathedral, to the exit he’d told Kara about. Willow was still crying but stopped short, tugging at him. “Seb, no! We’ve got to go back into the offices; this is our only chance!”

  Forget about saving the world, I just want to save you! But she was right. Seb held back a curse; still gripping her hand, he turned and headed for the shadowy corner. They both had their arms to their mouths, coughing; as they passed the mangled altar again, Willow’s face was pale but resolute – he could sense she was holding onto herself tightly, determined to do what had to be done. They reached the office door, where she jabbed in the security code unhesitatingly.

  A green light glowed. Seb threw open the door and they ran down a narrow stone hallway lined with paintings of angels. As the door closed behind them, the sound of shouts cut off abruptly; an almost eerie silence descended. Around a bend were the new offices – a large reception area with sofas and chairs. The door just beyond stood open; Seb could hear the hum of computers.

  They rushed in – there was another door to the right. Opening it, Seb saw a large mahogany desk. This computer was on too; he slid into the chair and tapped the mouse. The box requesting a password came up, and he swore. He glanced at the mouse again, rested his hand on it. He wasn’t usually very good with objects, but he didn’t need details, just some kind of hint; a clue—

  Only jumbled images of angels came. Ángeles, he typed. Wrong password. laiglesiadelosángeles. Nothing.

  Willow had gone for the filing cabinet, tugging at it fruitlessly. She ran over. “Keys, are there any keys?”

  As she spoke, Seb’s gaze fell on a carved wooden angel beside the monitor. A tickle of knowledge came, and he grabbed for it – small silver keys lay underneath. He snatched them up, gave them to Willow.

  “Try the mouse for me – we need the password,” he said tensely.

  “Oh god, I’m not great at this. . . ” She touched the mouse, frowning. “Um – something about the angels’ glory, maybe?” She sprinted back to the files. “What’s the Spanish for ‘Seraphic Council’? And ‘security’?”

  Seb told her, furiously typing in lagloriadelosángeles. It worked, and he heaved a sigh of relief – but no sooner had he accessed the email account than the lights in the office flickered and died. The computer screen went black. Seb stared blankly at it. At the filing cabinet, Willow gave a surprised yelp; then her angel appeared overhead, casting light on the files.

  Somewhere, a rhythmic banging noise had started.

  Seb looked up, his skin prickling. He reached for his own angel self, sent it soaring down the hallway. As he burst out into the main cathedral, he saw that most of the congregation had now escaped, but the place was full of rioters – tipping over pews, smashing windows. Several of them were battering at the locked office door with an angel statue, their auras blood-red as they yelled obscenities. Wheeling on one wing, Seb saw the wooden door start to buckle. Someone else ran up – a man shouting at the others to move aside. He pulled a gun and began firing at the door.

  Seb sped back to the offices; as he merged, his human self was already lunging towards the filing cabinet. “Willow, we’ve got to go!”

  She shook her head anxiously. “Wait, this file might have something – it feels important—”

  Seb heard the door crash open down the hallway, the echo of shouts. “Now!” He pulled Willow bodily from the filing cabinet; she resisted for a second, hanging back to yank the file out, and then they were both running, Willow with the file clutched to her chest.

  They raced back out into the narrow hallway. Around the bend, it sounded as if the rioters were ripping the paintings down from the walls and smashing them. Then came running footsteps, heading their way. Seb and Willow were already tearing down the corridor in the opposite direction, her angel flying overhead to light their way down the dim, windowless passage.

  As they turned another corner, Seb saw that the fire exit he’d remembered was still there, its sign looking blessedly ordinary as it beckoned to them. He threw himself against the door’s metal bar and they spilled out into the cool twilight of a car-lined street behind the cathedral.

  There was no time to be relieved – they’d burst out into another battle. Crusaders and Faithful were fighting each other in a seething mass, at least a hundred of them: fists swinging, the sticks from placards being used as weapons. Angels with enraged faces flew overhead, occasionally ducking down to rip away the life force of a Crusader. A man screamed, clutching his chest as he fell to the ground. The fighting continued around him like churning water.

  Seb and Willow ran along the side of the cathedral. Her angel had returned to her, leaving them bathed in shadow. All at once, Seb stopped short, feeling both Willow’s sudden, pulsing fear and a rushing sensation like a wind tunnel: a huge flock of angels was heading right towards them. Oh god, their half-angel energy – Seb didn’t know if the angels would stop long enough to sense them; couldn’t take the chance. Too hurried to be gentle, he shoved Willow up against the rough stone wall of the cathedral, his body hiding hers as he grabbed hold of both their auras with his thoughts – struggling through sheer force of will to bring them so close to their bodies that they couldn’t even be seen, so that he and Willow were only shadows in the darkness.

 

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