Trouble always seems to find me if it wants to go looking. It makes sense; my office can be reached from almost every corner of the world. See, all you really need is the right ingredients and the right incantations when walking into any investigator’s office. By the time the incense has finished burning, you’ll be right across the desk from me.
See, every one of us had an aspect, a calling, something that defined us in the abstract. I was truth, and by extension I was the one the others went to when they needed to know the truth. It doesn’t mean I was always honest though. I was just simply inclined to find the truth, not tell it.
There were millions of us, I think. It was hard to keep track of at the time. You got to know those who worked around you, but that doesn’t mean that you knew anyone beyond your network. To be honest, I hadn’t seen my immediate network in a couple months. Most of them were of similar aspects, like “lying,” “honesty,” “knowledge,” and even “communication,” so they didn’t need my help as often as others.
So you can imagine my surprise when my old friend Cassius came walking into my office. Even more befuddling, he didn’t smell like incense at all. He must have found my physical door. I decided right then that I was going to move.
Cassius belonged to the concept of communication. He was one of thousands, and so was I. But Cassius worked with me directly in the old days. We would appear in front of those who needed our wisdom, and introduce ourselves with, “Do not be afraid.” We used to joke about how those words might as well have been our names.
Cassius these days decided to walk around in the body of a pale skinned blonde man. His lean muscles were easily identifiable as he always wore thin, tight clothes, even in the coldest winters. He used to say, “I spent thousands of years being horrifying to everyone I met. I want people to actually listen now.” What he failed to realize was to anyone sober he looked a little too…porcelain. Not a single blemish on him. I once punched him in the face to see what he looked like with a bruise. Before his head stopped moving, it was already back to being pristine.
To us however, he was always going to look the same. When we saw each other it was like seeing two images overlaid on top of the other, but always shifting which was on top. So when I saw him, I also saw an orb of writhing mouths and teeth and tongues. When he spoke, I heard the voice of the pale blonde man but I also heard what sounded like an infinite chorus of voices singing the same words.
Cassius didn’t like that this was true. That’s why he rarely saw anyone from the old days. It made him feel ugly, and he hated nothing more than feeling ugly.
I stretched my legs out on top of my desk and asked him, “Why are you here?”
“Is that how you greet a friend?”
“It’s how I greet someone I haven’t seen in the past century, Cassius.”
“Well, do you have any smokes on you? I’m a bit peckish.”
I pulled out a pack from the top drawer of my desk and tossed it to him. He pulled out a few and immediately ate one. We all had our own little quirks. Something that made even regular people know we weren’t one of them, if they decided to actually look. Cassius, here, had to eat cigarettes. He had some poetic notions about why that was the case. For a while he was saying that it was because it made people lose their voices. But other people had quirks that seemingly had no connection to their aspect. I know a woman who had a latticework of scars that glowed when she was angry, and her aspect was wealth. I knew another who had to tap out SOS in morse code when he was anxious; his aspect was healing. There was no rhyme or reason, it just was, and that was the truth, or at least how I saw it.
“Quit the bullshitting. You didn’t come here just for a pack of cigarettes.”
“Yet you kept a pack for me anyway.” He placed the pack back on the desk. “You never smoked. Why’s that exactly?”
“I have a soft spot for old friends.” I flashed a smile that was little more than lips pressed in a thin line, leaned forward, and put them back in the drawer.
“Do you keep tabs on any of them anymore?”
“I keep tabs on almost everyone I run across.” That was a lie. It used to be true, but that was back when I was paranoid.
“If you did, you would know why I’m here.” He sat on my desk.
“God damn it Cassius,” I moved a lamp away from him. “I know you love hearing your own voices but I’m getting tired of this.”
He sighed softly, “Well, if you really must know, I lost contact with the few people I used to know before this life.”
“Well, so what?”
“They keep popping up a little worse for wear.”
“What are you implying.”
“I think someone is killing angels.”
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I am considering making this a longer form story that tells everything that happened before this. If I do, I may make it my NaNoWriMo project in November. The other two options are here and here. If you are a three dollar or more subscriber, I will be having a poll in my discord.
This one was a little different. I’ve got a couple other parts of this story being written, so I think I’m going to try to write this whole thing and post each part in order. Tell me what you think!