Belated Flash Friday – 1 667

For those asking why the 1 667 doesn’t look like this: 1,667 it’s because I went to french immersion and the French hate commas.

Part of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fridays, theme is the first 1 667 words from Nanovember

The God Device

[working title]

Prologue

Kiana had curled up on the window sill; her feet and back wedging her into place between the two sides of the frame. The window was old, and the cracks in the glass let in cold winter air. The little bundle of a girl shivered, letting a puff of breath fog up the glass, before wiping it away to watch the snow fall. Large soft flakes fell thick and white in the orange light of the streetlamps.

As Kiana watched, the snowflakes lit up bright blue and gold, all shimmery and pretty, the light brightest down the alleyway, just out of view. The little girl craned her cheek over to get a better look.

“Don’t you put your face on the glass, I just cleaned it,” Kiana’s mom said. The glass might have been clean on the inside, but the grime between the panes, and on the outside of the window was still there, making it harder to see what was happening..

“But Mom, there’s something going on down there,” she said, looking up before pointing to where the blue-gold light was already fading. “Maybe it’s Santa!”

Mom walked over, wiping her hands on her apron. The stripes on it had faded, but you could still tell it was from the Pancake Place, where she worked. Kiana liked the pancake place, they let her eat the burnt pancakes on the weekends, and watch the cooks when Grammy couldn’t babysit.

“Sweetie, That’s not Santa,” Mom said, brushing a hand over Kiana’s curls. They were soft and dark, just like Mom’s, but without the grey. “Santa has  red lights, that’s just a policeman.” She kissed Kiana on the forehead. “Now go wash up, the soup’s ready.”

“But Mom! Cops are blue-blue and red, not blue-yellow,” Kiana said as she climbed down from the window, careful to avoid the radiator. The heat never seemed to warm up the apartment, but the radiator itself could still get hot enough to burn.

“Kiana, don’t make me ask twice.”

“It’s true,,” Kiana said, but she threw a last look at the window and walked to the bathroom, dragging her feet with every step. She’d pout too, if she thought that would do anything, but it never did., The apartment was small, though to Kiana it fit just right. It had room for the bed-couch, the old tv that looked like it was snowing, and the kitchen. Grammy had a bigger house, but didn’t live in a tall building like Kiana and Mom did. . But most of all, Kiana liked being able to watch out the window of the apartment, seeing the people walk by all little, seeing the flash of police cars and seeing the blue-gold of tonight.

“I’m totally sure it wasn’t a cop car,” Kiana said, stepping into the chilly bathroom.

Kiana.”

“Washing!”  Kiana turned on the tap, waiting for it to get mostly warm. She’d just shoved her hands under the faucet when someone knocked on the door. No, it wasn’t a knock so much as banged on the door.

Kiana poked her head out the bathroom door, to see her Mom staring the door. When the person banged again, even louder, she saw the way Mom flinched. Was Daddy back?

“Kiana, baby, close the door,” Mom said murmured on the way by, brushing Kiana’s hair back and planting a light kiss on her forehead. “You close the door and lock it. Don’t you open it for anyone but me.”

Kiana nodded.

“FBI. Open the door.” It was a man’s voice, rough and raw. Like Daddy used to get before he went away, but not as angry. Almost scared. Kiana’s Mom walked over to the apartment’s door, and glanced back.

She looked over her shoulder and smiled, but something was wrong about it.

“It’ll be okay baby. Just wait in there.”

Kiana nodded and closed the door. Her little hands pressed in the knob and turned until it clicked.

“If you don’t open the goddamn door…” The man’s voice was easy to hear despite the two doors. The walls were thin, and the doors didn’t fit the jambs well. Kiana wriggled down to lay on her belly, peering under the space where the bathroom door hung crooked against the also-crooked floor. The bed-couch blocked most of her field of view, but she could hear Mom open the front door. Kiana heard the rattle of the security chain pull tight and felt a little better. Not even Kiana could fit through the door with the chain on. She’d tried.

“I was just at the stove; can I help you, officer?” Mom asked.

“Special Agent, Ma’am. Not officer,” the man corrected. Kiana was sure that she didn’t like the sound of his voice. It was sharp and breathless. Instinct pressed Kiana down into the tiled floor as far as she could. She didn’t want this man to be here. Police Officers showed up now and again, but they never spoke to Kiana or her Mom.

“How can I help you Special Agent?” Her Mom sounded tight, all wound up almost like she was scared. More than the man’s voice, hearing fear in her Mom’s voice terrified Kiana. Mom got sad, but she never got scared. She was… Mom, she was practically God.

“I’d like to come in and ask you a few questions,” the man said.

“Do you have a warrant?”

Kiana heard something heavy hit the door. The chain clinked, pulled tight and then Kiana heard wood splinter. She could see her mom stumble back into view, hands up, her face scared. Kiana didn’t see the man, but she saw his hand lift up, holding something.

Mom’s scream was cut off by a wet crunch. Red splattered onto the worn grey carpet and Mom’s feet staggered backwards towards the couch. More red dripped down onto Mom’s socks bottom of her apron.

Fancy men’s shoes stepped into Kiana’s view: black leather wet with melting snow bleeding down the sides into the dirty carpet. He was too close to the bathroom for her to see much else.

“Tell me where it is,” the man said.

“Where is what?” Mom asked, her voice thick with pain and fear. Kiana flushed hot, furious that this man had scared Mom. He’d made her cry! Adults weren’t supposed to do that.

The air cracked, and the overhead light exploded with glass rain. The room was dark now, aside from the weak kitchen light. Kiana couldn’t see the man, but his shadow loomed on the back wall, next to the open apartment door.  She whimpered. The hall was empty. No one bothered with each other’s business with the cops came. No one.

“Where is the fucking device? The halo!” The man was screaming now, and Kiana covered her head with her hands, closing her eyes. If she prayed real hard maybe the man would go away.

Please God. Please Jesus. Make the Devil go away. Please. I’m sorry.

Kiana didn’t hear whatever Mom said next, but the crack of the gun ripped through her breathless prayer. She screamed.

“Mommy!”

Mom was sobbing and Kiana started to wail.

“And who is that hiding?” the Devil asked. Kiana covered her mouth.

“Leave her alone.” Her mom’s voice was thick. “Don’t you touch her.” Kiana whimpered into her little hand, and felt her eyes getting hot. If Mom hadn’t told her to stay in the bathroom she would have thrown open the door and fought him off. Kiana knew she would bite and kick, and wanted to chase the Devil away… but deep down, Kiana knew no matter how hard she fought, the Devilman would win. So she stayed where she was; terrified and helpless.

Kiana heard a click, but she couldn’t bring herself to peek back under the door.

“What’s her name?”

“Kiana,” mom said said, “Kiana, she’s only six. Only six. Please, she never hurt anyone, just let her go. Please, just let her go.” For a moment, a long, heart-stopping moment, Kiana thought the man was  gone. He was that quiet.

“Son of a bitch.”

“Wait!-” Kiana hear her mom start to scream. But a crack of the gun cut her off. First one, then two, then three. The air was thick with that metal smell, but also with something else. Poop, wee and blood.

Kiana started screaming, the sound ripping out of her throat and tearing it raw and hot and even then when she sucked in a breath, she was still screaming. She heard the Devil’s voice but words weren’t making sense any more. Everything was broken. She scrambled back and threw herself into shower stall where she curled up into a little ball and rocked herself back and forth, back and forth. Why hadn’t Mom said anything?

“Open the door you little shit,” Satan yelled through the door, and Kiana heard him bang on it, like he’d banged on the other door. When Mom had opened that one he’d… he’d…

“Mom?” She said, between gasping breaths. “Mom?”

The lock wasn’t good, and the door was light, and the Monster on the other side would get through soon. There was a small window in the bathroom, but Kiana was too short to reach.

Mom?!

“Mommy can’t help you,” the Devil shouted through the door, and it banged, the hinges shuddering. “Mommy’s dead. Now be a good little girl and come out of there.”

Kiana wanted to scream, to tell him he was lying. The words caught in her throat and she choked on them and threw up into the bathtub. The door crashed again, and this time when Kiana looked up, she could see someone crawling through the window. They were hard to see through her tears, but no one else would come to fight off the Devil but an Angel.

Thank you God. Thank you. Please save Mommy. Please.

“He’s in there!” Kiana cried, yanking aside the shower curtain. Out in the main room she could hear Devil swear. The Angel dropped to the ground, just in time to avoid the bullets that punched through that flimsy door. Splinters flew into the bathroom, and when the evil thunder stopped, the Angel got up to it’s feet and pulled the curtain back into place.

“Stay there,” it whispered. Kiana heard the door open. The shower curtain lit up, over and over.

Kiana couldn’t see what happened, but when the thunder stopped it was the Angel who pulled back the shower curtain. Kiana tried to push past her, to get out to see Mom… but the Angel grabbed her, and pressed Kiana’s face into its shoulder.

“Let me see her! Let me see mommy!” Kiana screamed, but the angel was too strong.

“I’m so sorry Ki,” it was saying. Kiana could hardly breathe, pressed so tight against the Angel’s jacket. She wanted to ask why it wasn’t helping Mom, why the Angel only got there after the Devil hurt her. The Angel knew Mommy’s special name for her though.

“But Mom…” she said, between sobs. “What about mom?” She hiccupped, before another wail bubbled up in her throat. This time, it carried vomit.

“I am so, so, sorry.” The Angel whispered. Kiana didn’t realise that he had carried her from the apartment until she felt snow on her neck. It’s arms were warm, and it held her tight as they walked. She couldn’t the metal any more, or the poop and wee, but she could smell the puke, as sharp in her nose as it was on her tongue. Kiana watched the neighborhood slip by through ice-crusted lashes.

“Are we going to heaven?” she asked when the tears ran out. “Will Mommy be there?” She hadn’t called Mom ‘Mommy’ since she was a baby, but right now, with all the in her belly, Kiana didn’t care. She realised that the Angel had wrapped a blanket around her. Her blanket, the one that was pink with Dollies on it. Kiana tried to look up at the Angel, but a strong hand pressed her back into its shoulder.

“No, sweetie. I’m sorry; she’ll be waiting for you though when you’re ready. We’re going to someplace safe.”

“But Mom-” Kiana, her head already pounding. Just because the tears were gone didn’t mean the hurt was. And she hurt so bad.

“Your Grammy will keep you safe. Grammy will keep you safe until the hurt isn’t so bad.”

Kiana sniffled, her snot freezing into the blanket in the winter air.

“But I want Mommy.”

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