Today’s piece picks up where yesterday’s left off. It’s also this week’s longer entry.
Heinrich screamed until his voice failed him. The woman smiled, roughly lifted his chin to look in his eyes and laid her right hand on top of his head.
“Little man,” she spoke, her voice resonated with preternatural clarity, “For your crimes, I sentence you to Na-agba ama, the bearing of witness. No thing shall claim your life until you have lived a hundred years and on this day every year, the thing you love most in this world will be forever taken from you.”
A searing pain shot through Heinrich’s head as she named the punishment. With an unquestionable certainty, he knew that she spoke the truth. He howled in anguish for a long moment and started sobbing.
A man in a simple suit stepped out from the shadows. The suit was the kind a particularly poor farm hand may have been given from a church’s collection box a decade ago.
“Deirdre,” the newcomer spoke, “A bearing of witness? We haven’t used those since before I was made…”
“And? What of it? The mortal deserved it.” She paused and giggled, “Plus it will be fun. I’ve always wanted to see one in action.” She turned her attention back to Heinrich, “Run along new boy, you aren’t welcome here.”
The man clenched his jaw and stood up straighter. Black feathered wings spread from his back and stretched out more than an arm’s length each side, adding half a foot to his already imposing height. His voice boomed and Deirdre flinched, “We are not here to torment the mortals, dear sister.” He growled, like a dog preparing to attack. And then, with obvious effort, he closed his eyes and shook his head. His wings disappeared and the darkness of the night suddenly seemed less. He took a deep breath and then sighed.
“What was the mortal’s crime? I trust it merited the punishment”
“Of course it did. He committed the most egregious of crimes. He was selfish and thinking only of himself. My poor driver nearly wet himself bringing the automobile to a halt. I was jostled something fierce. The foolish driver should have simply run this damn fool over.”
“You have condemned this mortal to a lifetime of torment because he inconvenienced you?”, the man’s wings grew again as he spoke louder and louder, “You have changed the threads of dozens of other lives, cutting them short and spinning them in unplanned directions.” He thundered, “Because he inconvenienced you.”
Deirdre laughed, covering her hand with her mouth. “Dear little brother, you really must learn to control yourself. It will be the death of you.”
He growled again and turned, punching the wall behind him which shook, filling the air with dust. He took several deep breaths and turned back to face her, speaking calmly once again, “I’ve been sent by Grim Ngozi on the orders of the conclave. Your excesses have been noticed. You are to return with me and face your final judgement.”
Deirdre spun to face him, her wings flaring, “What?”, she spat, “They dare to send a whelpling like you to order me to meet them? Cowards. I shall send Ngozi your head for his impertinence and whilst he is crying over his favourite son, I will take his head too.”