At first, Memoirs of Daniel was titled "Biography of Death." The theme was doused in religion. I worked mainly off of plot; nothing else had any real significance. This is the first section of the book, written in November 2006. Needless to say, the novel Memoirs of Daniel is much, much different now. :)
In the times that would grow to dictate over two millennia of lives, when Adam and Eve partook in the forbidden fruit, a necessity was realized. The fury of all of the Heavenly bodies rushed upon their leader, begging him with questions on what to do, what to say and who to blame for such insubordination. And God had one answer: blame man. Man was made a sinner; man would then die a sinner. In that moment, in God's own eyes, another angel was born.
Upon hearing God's command, the angels began to protest. Such a foul being to be sharing the same quarters with; this Death was not to be taken lightly. Just his aura, the black and foreboding, could cause a misbalance among the mass of them. "Just what Lucifer would want," they appealed to him. But God's firm hand rushed down like a gavel upon hard wood. His decision was final, the law of the universe. He would clean out sin. He would set man right. He would be the final thing to provoke change in the heart of God's most precious creation.
The angels fell silent, watching the angel with reproachful eyes. Pulling disgusted faces as he writhed on the floor of a cloud, pain and torment echoing in his animalistic cries. This angel had paid once for the sins of Adam and Eve. He, then, was the first born, the first to experience the beginning of life. And he would forever be known as Death.
One angel spoke out, calling for the torture to ease on the skeletal looking being. However, in all the pleading and screams both from a single angel and Death himself, God held on to his vision. Most saw this as punishment: Death's birth. But, He knew better than that. In the final seconds that man would roam the earth, Death would appear as a savior. And he would spread the word of his God, of his Father. The hope for his people to accept their fate and proclaim the faith they held in their lives urged God's creation forward.
Death grew as he spasmed on the ground; bony and scarred hands poked through the ends of a cloak as dark as night. A shriek blasted through the Heavens, piercing the ears of any inhabitants from light years away. Yet, God remained strong, watching as his newest angel cried on the ground beside him. Angels pleaded for mercy upon their brother, the brother they had never wanted. They watched as his cloak was fitted around him, ratted and torn away at the ends. As if from nowhere, a long, wooden stick appeared and at the end of it was a curved blade with a pointy tip. Death's hand gripped the body of the weapon, holding it tightly as the final bouts of pain left his body trembling.
"Stand, my son," demanded God, though his tone was as gentle as a wind's whisper. "Stand and let your brothers and sisters see you for what you are."
Death stood on shaky legs, his body weak and strung with pain. Using his staff to steady himself, Death faced the other angels, most with looks of sorrow on their faces. He glanced down at his own form, noting silently the cover he was wearing, tattered. So unlike that of his siblings. And then his eyes met God's. It was as if the pain melted away and his body was filled with warmth and passion, a passion to fulfill that which he was created.
"What am I?" Death asked curiously, eyeing the scabby hands not fully covered by his cloak. "If they are my brothers, then why do I look so different from them?"
God smiled and held out his hand to take Death's. "You have a purpose among the living. A most grievous purpose. A creation, such as you, has proved to be disloyal. And now, I wish to show them my almighty power and love. You, my son, are to show them faith."
Death's eyes widened slightly beneath his hood. "How will they listen to me father, when I look so unfamiliar?"
"You will not be seen," He answered lightly. "You will only be felt."
"We shall see." God chuckled and let go of Death. "For now, I wish for you to get to know your brothers, the other angels in our world. They will help you understand your life and your eternity."
Nodding, Death stepped forward into the light of his fellow angels. Eternity. The word seemed so final. Would he never have a chance to truly live like the others? He could sense the tension already among them. A voice that he had recognized from when he was still on the ground greeted him.
"Come, Death, there is much to learn before you join Adam and Eve in the Garden." A man with a strong jaw and clear blue eyes stood before Death, extending his hand. As his wings fluttered, the muscles across his naked chest flexed. Death was in awe of his beautiful brother.
"Why does our father deny me the chance to look like you?" Death asked, removing the hood from his head, revealing his charred skin and eyeless sockets. "If no one will see me, why do I look like this?"
The angel's straight face matched his even voice. "I do not know, Death. Our father has his reasons for everything. I'm Michael; our father wanted me to be strong. I am and I do not question it."
"I understand," Death lied, pulling his hood back up to shroud his vile face in darkness. "Tell me, what am I to learn about eternity, Michael?"
They paced through the clouds, on past several brightly colored rainbows that were shining down on Earth's lush green grass. Michael surveyed Death as he beamed around him, taking everything in with the appreciation of a small child. Death was even so bold as to try and catch a puff of cloud that had floated by, and marveled as his blackened hand traveled straight through it, for a moment looking pure and white.
"Eternity is forever," Michael stated monotonously. He cleared his throat to gain Death's attention, which was proving hard to maintain with the sights around him. "But, much more than that, it is a way for our souls to rest with God, our Father."
Death barely inclined his head in understanding, remaining silent as his gaze took in a fresh water river running into the sea. All of this beauty and nothing to share it with; that must have been why his father had created Adam and Eve. It was a feast for the eyes. Glorious.
"Why are their only two followers of God allowed down there?" Death asked innocently, peering over the edge of a bulky and wispy cloud. "I would think He would want to share this with more... Like us, for instance."
Michael shook his head disapprovingly and glanced sideways to Death. "You must understand that our reward for being servants of the Lord is that we get to live in this divine paradise for eternity."
"Forever," Death mimicked the earlier definition of eternity to his brother. "How do you serve the Father?"
"That," Michael answered firmly, "is only my own concern, young Death. Every angel's purpose is different, no two are alike."
"What is my purpose, then?"
Leading the dark angel past the clouds, Michael finally reached a temple of sorts. Long pillars stood up to the blackness of the starry night sky, and whispers were being passed through the temple doors. Death watched on in silence, his question long forgotten to his own mind. Michael gestured to the door, inviting him to enter.
"Into the House of the Lord, Death," Michael said, a snap in his voice at the faltering hand that Death had put near to the door. "We must hear the calls of Adam and Eve and the conversation in which our Father has had with them this evening."
Death gripped the door, his long fingers twisting around the handle easily. A faint, bright light shined from inside and the whispers grew louder.
"God," a woman's voice spoke tentatively. "Please have mercy on Adam and I. We knew not what the apple would do!"
A voice, so unlike its previous tone, boomed through the temple. "I have warned you before. You did not trust in my love. You did not have faith! And for those sins, you will be punished!"
Death stood still, feeling his fear build up at the Lord's anger. Michael did not blink, though his feathers ruffled slightly.
"But, my Lord," Adam's voice spoke up, "We were tricked by the snake, the Devil. We knew not what we did."
Again, God spoke up and a clap of thunder sounded through the gullies, shaking the ground of Heaven. "For these treasons upon your Father, you shall know what it is to suffer the immense pain that you have caused inside of my very heart and soul. Death will find you."
The black hooded angel stiffened and stared openly at the other end of the temple. "Why will I-"
"Shhh, brother," Michael said, placing a hand on Death's shoulder. "We must continue to listen."
"You, Adam and Eve, have taken my paradise and mocked it. You and your children will continue to sin in a free world and I will allow you now, to choose to believe in me, or to take part in Lucifer's antics. Death, my angel, will be upon you when your life is to end on this planet. Find me before then, or join the Devil and learn why he is not to be trusted. For Eternity."
Adam and Eve spoke at the same time, a desperate cry. "You promised us forever; that you would take care of us, give us paradise!"
Lightning flashed throughout the sky, causing the bright light in the temple to shine even brighter.
God had lost his patience. "My word is final! Death will be here when it is your time to die and your soul will be decided by your loyalties."
The temple was silent. No more words would be heard flowing through it. God, however, was in front of Death and Michael in a matter of milliseconds. He stepped slowly to his throne at the other end of the room, adorned in gold and white lace.
"My sons," God spoke, beckoning them forward. "The time is upon us to show the human race our love and our devotion to their lives and their happiness. Death, you will descend onto Earth and spend your eternity bringing your hands to those who are ready to be moved from life and into death."
Death glanced up at his father in horror. "It will be my duty to bring them to you?"
Michael looked warily between the two, his heart feeling weak for the chore Death was to complete. Before he could open his mouth to question his Father further, God had lifted his hand and placed it on Death's weapon.
"This scythe," he named the weapon, "will be your tool to find those who are ready to die. You will determine how long they suffer with their illnesses and maladies. Only you, my son, can give them relief."
"Relief?" Death asked in a strangled voice. "To bring them here, to you, to live forever?"
"Or to Lucifer," God said sadly. "Unfortunately, it is now known that Lucifer will try to desecrate all I have created. Those that follow him will follow him. I will not spare my pity for those that defy me."
Death stared at his father and then to his brother. "Who is Lucifer that you speak of so badly?"
Michael spoke up now, his wings opening and closing, the scarring on his arms and chest becoming visible. Even, now, a few feathers could be seen missing. "Lucifer is also known as the Devil. He use to be an angel as well." Spitre dripped from his mouth. "He fell. That is to say, he wanted the powers of God."
Gasping, Death quickly turned his head back to the Lord. "Can an angel do this, Father?"
God nodded his head and hung it dejectedly. "Sadly, my son, yes. An angel can, and did, do this."
Time passed, though Death seemed to find it at a stand still as his fate approached. He watched from the Heavens as Adam's hair turned grey and Eve's skin began to slip slightly from her thin body. It was a horrible thing, he decided, that they should suffer something so devastating. As the years flew by, children were born, and the whispering prayers became more frequent. Death watched the pain of child bearing, the harsh panting of breath when one of the humans were going through a rough time. And it made him weep.
He sat on the bend of stars along the Milky Way, his scabby hands attached desperately to his uncloaked head. He made a wish to his Father. A wish to stop the hardships that these people were going through. Their hunger fed only by their will to hunt and kill God's creatures and plants, their thirst only quenched by using the water from their springs and seas.
Michael approached Death, his hands behind his back. He faced forward and stared directly at the brightest star in the sky, a frown formed on his lips. "My brother," Michael spoke solemnly, "why do I always find you lamenting over the fate of the people?"
Death startled, though he could feel the presence of his brother as he approached. "They are damned to a life they never expected," he said in a long breath. "And when that life is ended, they will have me to blame. Or to thank. This confuses me, Michael."
Sitting next to his brother on the large ring of rocks, Michael never glanced back to Death. "It is your duty to lead them where they are meant to go. It is our Fathers word and therefor, it is the law."
"It should not be so!" Death argued, throwing his hands down onto his lap. "This Lucifer, this Devil that you all speak of in the lowest of regard, this is what he would do, is it not? Take the soul from its manifestation and cause this unnaturalness. The pain, the suffering, the loss! Brother, this is not what life was meant to be about, was it?"
"Our Father has made up his mind, Death," Michael answered firmly. "It is not up to you nor I to question his decisions. You must get over this need to feel for the humans and let them choose their own paths. Most will come to us."
"And those that do not?" Death stood on the rock and ducked a piece of debris with a blue flash following it. "Then I condemn them to an eternity of torture and pain with Lucifer!"
Michael glanced up at his brother and sighed. "Your duty is why you were created. It is the same for every angel, no matter how we disagree."
"Then tell me, brother," Death said, a bite in his voice, "what is it that you are bound to do? And why do you not talk about it?"
Michael stood and spread his wings, the white feathers stretched twice the length of his body. "I have told you countless times over the years that my fate is between the Father and myself." And with his final word, Michael flew away, back to Heaven, to a temple where he could sit in solitude as he normally did. A place that Death was not allowed to enter.
There was always a distance left between Death and the other Angels. Even Raphael had stayed away, though the Father had said that team work between the two was essential to provide the humans with a balance. Sickness and health was a thin line, just as life and death. But the communication between the two had been scattered and sporadic.
The days came where Raphael would stand next to Eve. Her breathing grew shallow as her children aged and had their own families. Even Adam had begun to beg God for his help. His wife, the love of his life, was fading with every passing second. It was in a second that Raphael had nodded beside Eve's weakening body that Death had finally learned the call of his destiny, of his eternity.
He rushed down to the Earth, his black cloak pulled over his bald and black head, and landed beside his brother. They stared as Eve's breaths became ragged, coughing and spluttering blood down the front of her naked body.
Raphael watched Death impatiently. "I cannot let her stay this healthy for long, brother," he spoke with urgency. "If she perishes without your touch, she will be lost to Lucifer. She has paid for her sins."
Death tried to step forward to claim the grey haired beauty, but his feet were immobile. "I cannot. I will not."
"You will do as our Father instructed, Death, or your fate will be worse than hers!" Raphael's voice echoed through the wintered garden.
"I-" Death glanced around, his scythe held by his side, the pointed tip aimed over Eve's heart. "She has children, Raphael! Her husband, he weeps for her. Do you not see his hand atop hers?"
"I do, Death," Raphael said softly. "But it is your duty to lead her home."
It was his first capture. The tip of his scythe made contact with Eve's body and in that second, a pearly, white figure rose from the still body lying next to her children and her lover. Death's hood could not hide the eyes that had grew to the size of apples. It was both beautiful and sad at the same time, watching Eve's spirit look down upon her family. He reached out his burned hand and gripped her opaque hand.
"Come," he said softly, containing his emotion. "It is time to see your Father once again."
Her voice was angellic, a melody of tones that shook Death. "Okay."
"Take her home," Raphael urged him. "I will be watching Adam. He does not have long, though he does not know it."
"Adam!" Eve yelled, yanking her hand from Death. "He has not repent of his sins! Adam!"
Raphael gave his brother a cross glare and turned his back, leaving Death to deal with Eve on his own. Death knew that he couldn't give life back to the woman and it tore him to pieces. He gripped her wrist and pulled her along to the glowing light that was radiating just a few steps in front of them. She tugged back, fighting, kicking, screaming to get back to her family. But Death's eyes hardened on the light and he didn't relent on his hold. This was his first test; he had to pass in the Father's eyes. And as her screams became more desperate, Death held tighter.
"The light will guide you home," he said apologetically as he stepped into it. "Come with me and you will forever be able to watch your family. Please?"
For the first time, Eve had looked at Death. She nodded and followed the black angel, eyes down cast to the ground. As they were lifted to the Heavens, Eve's sobs overtook Death's ears. And for a fraction of a second, he felt tears, hot and salty, on his skin. Banishing them away, he rubbed his cloack over his face, accidentally knocking off his hood.
The scream from Eve caused him to jump, frightened that his grip had become too strong for the spirit. He never was taught what his job was, but instinct had carried him this far. And from what he gathered, he was the only angel who was able to touch these humans. Her finger pointed at him and her other hand covered her mouth.
"You!" She shouted, stepping away from the dark man, "You cannot be a convoy to the Lord!"
Death's lips straightened before a deep frown formed on his face. "I assure you, Eve, I am. I am his son, born because of your sins."
"Is this what God looks like?" She asked, catching her breath. "Will I look like you?"
He surveyed her as he drew up his hood. "You will stay as you are now," he answered simply. "Your fate now rests with our Father. And in him, you will see yourself, as perfect as he made you."
They stood in silence until they reached the Heavenly clouds that hid the temple of God. Once their feet left the bright light, Death withdrew his hand from her. And she followed, her eyes taking in everything that surrounded them. There were pillars and gates and clouds. And angels stood in form around the temple, each with their wings spread. It seemed like a special event, this death that she was destined to experience. All of her pain was gone and her age was no felt through her bones any longer.
"I am proud of you, my child," came a kind voice and following it was a rather sizable man dressed in all white. His body was semi transparent and his hair fell down along his shoulders, straight and kempt. "There are choices for all of us as you now know. And your choice to believe in my love and my everlasting life has led you here, to your paradise. To your eternity."
Eve's eyes were wide as she took the man's large hand. "And Adam?"
"He will find his fate in the choices he has made," he answered honestly. "If that is in my valley of angels, then so be it. If it is not, then you will learn to be one with his decisions in time."
Repenting had come from Adam in the seconds before his death. His breath rattled through the warm summer breeze as his children stood around, watching him get taken away by the invisible angel of God. Death was not proud of his actions with Eve, and he found the second time around to be just as difficult. Only this time, his victim did not argue and instead braced the idea of seeing his lover again.
"Death is like ice," Adam stated as they stepped into the beam of light. "If you are the angel of death, then why are you so warm?"
Death smiled, and dropped Adam's hand down. "My father made me in his perfection," he said, knowing it now, to be true. "The feelings of your death are still lingering, but where I am taking you, you will be forever warm, I assure you."
"And Eve?" Adam's voice was giddy, his translucent body nearly shook with happiness. "Will my wife be waiting?"
Nodding, Death gestured for Adam to step onto the cloud formation that greeted them. "But first, you must meet your Lord, our God."
Adam halted his steps and turned toward Death, unafraid to look deep into his eyes as they were hidden in the darkness of his hood. "I haven't spoken with God since our fight in the Garden of Eden."
"God does not hold grudges, Adam. And you shall be greeted by him with loving and nurturing arms." Death turned from his spot with Adam and left him to meet with the creator. He realized after Eve that it was not his place to witness the redemption of man into God's kingdom and instead found his solitude among the stars once again.
As he sat, staring at the constellation his father had made special for him, a bright formation of Ophiucus, his mind drifted to the conversation he held with the Lord. His father said that each constellation harbored a meaning to be figured out by the people that would walk the Earth in wake of Adam and Eve. He proclaimed that it gave them hope for more beyond their realm of reality. And Death could understand; the way the stars burned, the way they shimmered, left more to be desired.
God had said that Ophiucus would one day represent everything that Death meant. And so, in that quick explanation, Death had taken a liking to the star formation. He watched as the nebulas grew and exanded throughout time, but he never catered to one such as Ophiucus.
The world kept evolving, every day bringing something new into the lights of Heaven. Death watched on as several people grew and changed, challenged each other, discovered new ways to quench their thirst and hunger. He knew, though, in the back of his mind, he would have to bring them home. He never mentioned it to his father, but he was terrified of the first time he would have to take one of these people to Lucifer. Death had never met the Devil and feared the corruption that the people would have to endure in his care.
Twinkling stars reflected in Death's eyes and the hope for a paradise where there was no pain and suffering echoed in his head. The Father, so loving and nurturing, was prepared to lose these humans to a fate worse than what they were facing now. He couldn't understand the reason behind it and he wanted to refuse leading them to their damned existence.
His first test came with Adam's son; a rebel without a cause. He never found God's grace and as Raphael stood beside him staring at the flesh removed from his abdomen from a tiger bite, Death gazed upon him, his staff ready to claim the son's soul.
"He made no repentance," Death spoke softly, catching Raphael's eyes. "Have you ever met Lucifer?"
Raphael nodded. "Lucifer was an angel, Death. We have all met him."
Death pressed his scythe into the man's chest and drew from him the soul within. The man's face was horror-struck. "What are you?"
"I am Death," he answered, his voice carried throughout the land. "Our Father has tried to get you to believe. Have you not witnessed the stars in the sky, shining just for you? You have taken advantage, Daniel. And for that, your eternity will be spent with those your soul has claimed allegience to."
"My mother and father," Daniel assumed lightly, awe etched in the twilight of his eyes. "I cannot wait to see-"
Death shook his head and gripped Daniel's hand. "The Devil," he said evenly. "Your soul will remain in his care for eternity."
"Mother told me the story of the Devil and what he did to her and father!" Daniel shouted, trying to pull his hand from Death's vice-like grip. "I will not go!"
Raphael smirked and stretched out his wings, preparing for flight. "My work here is finished. Father will want a word with you when you are done here, Death."
"Yes," he acknowledged, pulling Daniel's begrudging form through the grass, it's green coloring fading as he walked on. There were no bright lights shining down from the clouds above. The gentle chorus of children’s whispers that flooded through the heart when they were sung was absent. Every step that they took forward provided a new feeling of ice and fire; it coursed through Death like a slick snake sliding through his veins and pumping into his mind. Death paused when the world faded into darkness, only a red glow for light.
Without realizing it, Death’s grip on Daniel’s hand tightened. He could hear the call of several cages rattling, inadvertently shaking him to the core. Daniel had slowed his pace and it didn’t phase Death, who had barely registered anything around him.
All of the tentative feelings that had been plaguing him as he withdrew Daniel’s soul was now enhanced, fear of what he was about to face surfacing. And then, just before him, a figure appeared. Tall and daunting.
“Death,” the deep voice spoke evenly. “And, Daniel.”
Death did not register letting go of Daniel, and even if Daniel wanted to run, it would be impossible. Against his will, the soul began moving forward with the man’s eyes on him hungrily.
Rough grunts echoed around them, jeering in a tongue that could not be understood. For a moment, Death thought he was done with his job and made to take a step backward, finding himself rooted to the spot. Whether from Lucifer’s unknown force or his own cowardice, he was not sure.
Daniel’s soul kept moving further into the darkness until he was out of sight. There was only one shrill scream and then silence. Death flinched, wondering what he had done in the name of his father.
The man before him stepped forth, clad in dark robes. A mischievous gleam rested itself in his onyx eyes, a sinful sneer across his lips. “So, you are Death?”
“I am,” Death answered innocently, feeling shrunken under the man’s height. “Lucifer?”
The Devil nodded. His charm did not go unnoticed. There happened to be a very alluring atmosphere about Satan that had Death entranced. He knew that Lucifer was evil, that he was the cast aside brother of all of the angels. But he could not see how they were in the same mold. Nothing about them was similar. Lucifer screamed for power, the way his poise caught attention, the way his voice commanded listeners.
Angels, however much Death was outcast by them, had innocence about them; a need to serve their father.
“We are both made from God,” Lucifer said as if reading Death’s thoughts. “I am your brother. And you, Death, are much more like I am than you care to admit.”
“Lies,” Death spoke forcefully, knocking the bottom of his scythe against the ground. “Nothing but lies from your mouth, Lucifer. You are a sinner!”
A cold, mirthless chuckle filled the pit of Hell. “And you will come to know me as a friend. Your Father knows it. And so do your brothers. Do you not see the way that they keep their distance from you, Death? Can you not see it in the way they shrink away when you enter a temple?”
Death found his strength again and stepped toward Lucifer. All of the time he had spent disparaging the thought of bringing souls down to this animal and his bred sons had left him. If Daniel’s denial of their Father was so, then there was nothing more Death could do but allow him to become just the same as the other demons.
“I am different from them,” Death spoke firmly, his black robes fluttering around his body. “But that does not mean that we lack love for one another. We are a team. And you are nothing but a dictator.”
“If that’s now you feel,” Lucifer said, turning from Death and walking with purpose back into the black hole that Death assumed led to the inner workings of Hell.
As Death turned to leave and head where the light shone and filled his heart, he heard Lucifer’s voice, a resonance, in a chilling laugh. “For now.”
Pondering. Since the turn of the century, Death had found himself more prone to thinking about his place in the palace of the world. Occasionally, Michael would visit, bearing advice and riddled responses to any questions that Death would ask. It seemed like Michael wanted him to give in and fail.
Death knew, though, that his loyalties would always lay with the Father. There were plans in motion, hopeful plans that would keep Death from having to face Lucifer. God had an ingenious thought, one he shared with Death… one that Death was giddy about.
One hundred years he had watched people walk on Earth. In those years, he had envied them, having choices, having the free will to make more of themselves. Undefined destinies. Death wondered what it felt like.
He had been born into his role. And the sight he met if he should turn his back on the Lord’s gracious gift was nothing he could tolerate. Death was stuck. Stuck with ridding the world of pioneers and worshippers, bringing them home to the valley of angels. Or, in several cases already, taking them to their eternal purgatory.
With every visit to Hell, Death found solace in the simple feelings he remembered from home; the warmth, the passion, the faith. It was all outlined, very blunt before his eyes. While he still struggled to understand why he resembled something as grotesque as the demons that dwelled with Lucifer, Death knew deep in his heart that he was his Father’s son – a true mirror in soul.
“Brother Death.” An angel stepped around so that he was directly in front of Death. “Raphael has news of another illness sweeping the countries. He cannot keep them holding on any longer.”
“Thank you, Gabriel,” Death said courteously, nodding his head. “I shall be down upon them in a second, I just have to grab the scythe.”
Gabriel inclined his head, refusing to meet eyes with his brother. His wings expanded, brilliantly white against the velvety, starlit space. He left Death, never lingering long in his presence.
As Death approached the scene of victims, he gasped at the sight; several dozen men, women and children lying on the ground, begging for breath. He glanced to his brother, Raphael, at a complete loss for words. One by one, he kneeled by them, holding his scythe to their chests.
He gathered those who would be taken to the Kingdom first and admired the sight of the majority lingering behind him. Raphael, too, had a small smile on his face as he watched the souls marvel at their translucent bodies and the angels now standing before them.
“Where do we go,” one spirit called out.
“Are the old tales of my grandfather’s true?” Another asked. “Is there a God?”
Death gazed up from his spot on the ground and after helping another soul from its dead body, felt his lips twitch in appreciation.