A Halloween Treat for my readers
Angel in the Elevator
Urban Legend – as “told” by the characters of
The Lost Angels series, by Heather Killough-Walden
“You ought to put an elevator in here,” said Ellie as she tossed her long black hair over her shoulder and leaned back in the cushions of the couch, taking her steaming mug of hot chocolate with her. “It’s a workout to get from one wing to another.”
“That’s because there are no ‘wings’, per se,” said Max, glancing up as if to take in the floors and levels beyond the ceiling over their heads. “The mansion simply transforms to accommodate us as we see fit.”
“An’ that means it’s bloody big,” said Gabriel, flashing her a shit-eating grin and then swigging down half the bottle of beer he held in one hand.
Lightning zigzagged outside the dark windows that ran along two walls. The curtains framing them on either side billowed slightly, as the windows had been left open a crack.
Thunder beckoned and Uriel’s brow rose. “Is that you?” he asked, turning to his newlywed bride.
Eleanore Granger, or Ellie, smiled and shook her head, shrugging her innocence. “Not this time.” As an archess, one of her abilities was to control the weather – but the gale building outside had nothing to do with her.
“It’s Halloween,” said Michael, who leaned casually against the mantle above the roaring fireplace. “A storm like this is par for the course.” His smile was a hell of a lot darker than normal for him. Michael was the goody-two-shoes of the four favored archangels. A wry and wicked tilt of his lips was rare. Perhaps it was for that reason that Eleanore found herself caught up in it now.
Uriel noticed, but he didn’t have a chance to say anything before a deeper, nearly painfully melodious voice cut in.
“I would have to agree,” said Azrael.
The inhabitants of the room – Uriel, Gabriel, Michael, Ellie, and Max, their guardian – turned to regard the enigmatic fourth archangel as he came down a long dark hall. The hall led to a winding stone staircase that, in turn, led to his sleeping chamber below ground. Azrael was the former Angel of Death. He was also a vampire – the first and king of the vampires, in fact – and every ounce of his exceedingly tall, broodingly handsome visage oozed the proof.
Azrael entered the living room and gracefully took a seat. The space filled with a pregnant quiet. Az’s presence did that sometimes.
“This weather and your mention of the elevator reminds me of something,” Uriel finally said, turning back to Ellie and breaking the silence.
“Shoot,” said Ellie, her dark blue eyes glittering in the firelight.
“Have you ever heard the story of the angel and the elevator?”
“You mean the urban legend,” corrected Michael, his tone back to its serious self once more.
“Whatever,” said Uriel, glancing sharply in his brother’s direction.
“Nope,” said Ellie. She leaned forward in the seat she occupied across from him, put down her mug, and rested her elbows on her knees. “Tell me.”
Uriel felt his emerald green eyes darken. Ellie’s shirt dipped slightly over one arm as she leaned toward him. The creamy expanse of her neck and shoulder beckoned. He slowly straightened, at once missing the fangs he’d been cursed with and then had lost not too long ago.
Eleanore must have seen the sudden spike of hunger in his expression, because her own pupils expanded, her lips parted, and her breathing hitched. Uriel’s smile turned as dark as his eyes.
“Well,” he said softly as he too leaned forward, closing the distance between them. “It goes like this. Once upon a time, in a world light-years away, a young woman worked in a high-rise building in a very busy city-“
“Leave it to the actor to embellish,” mumbled Gabriel under his breath.
“I heard it was a woman living in a high-rise apartment,” said Max, frowning in confusion from behind his wire-rimmed glasses.
“No, I’m pretty sure it was a woman who lived in a ranch house but sometimes cleaned high-rise offices,” said Michael.
“What-ever,” Uriel repeated, an edge finding its way into his deep voice. “As I was saying,” he went on, returning his gaze to Ellie, who was now hiding a laugh in her twinkling eyes. “A woman who had some sort of reason to spend some inordinate amount of time in a high-rise accommodation, for some unknown purpose one night went to sleep and had a bizarre dream.” He paused, as if expecting to be interrupted. When he wasn’t, he relaxed.
“In the dream, she was waiting for an elevator” he said, applying all of his attention to his bride. She listened intently. “She pressed the ‘down’ button and the elevator dinged on her floor. The doors slid open – and there stood a tall man in a white suit. The suit was so white, in fact, that it was glowing.”
“Sounds familiar,” muttered Gabriel. “The blooming glowy suit thing.”
“Except that Samael is not known to wear white,” said Azrael. Everyone looked at him. The change in subject was so abrupt, Uriel couldn’t help but wonder whether the vampire king had just read Michael’s mind.
Samael, he thought to himself. Sam was their arch-nemesis. The Fallen One. The tall, charismatic, devastatingly handsome and powerful archangel who had once been the Old Man’s favorite but was passed up for Michael was a thorn in the four favored’s sides.
Uriel had to admit that he could see Samael wearing a shining suit. All of his suits were tailored, incredibly expensive, and impeccably clean. But Az was right too. Sam didn’t wear white.
“Getting back to the story,” Uriel said by way of returning to the subject at hand.
“Except you’re telling it wrong again,” said Max, who sat up a little straighter and adjusted the vest in his own three-piece suit. His was brown. His suits were always brown. They matched his eyes and hair. “She didn’t have a dream because she never fell asleep. She was kept up by a light shining under her door, if I’m not mistaken. When she opened the door and looked out into the hall to find the light’s source, she saw the man in the white suit standing at the end of it. He was smiling at her.”
Uriel rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to fist his hand in his hair.
Max went on. “She watched for a while and eventually he turned away from her and disappeared around the corner.”
Uriel pursed his lips, took a deep breath through his nose, and thought fast. “Okay, dream or happenstance, she sees the man in white. Can we agree on that much?”
Max nodded. No one objected.
So Uriel went on. “Day two of our story sees our young lady entering the before-mentioned high-rise building. Somehow, she finds herself on the seventh floor.”
“Thirteenth,” corrected Michael.
“No, I think he’s right. I’m fairly certain it’s the seventh,” said Max.
“Christ,” muttered Uriel.
From where he sat on one of the sofas, Azrael spoke up. “She’s an executive assistant,” he said calmly. Everyone froze and turned to face him, their ears pricked at the sound of his deep, otherworldly voice. “At the end of the day, she is behind on her work. She has to stay late. The hours tick by one after another and soon,” he said, pulling them along with the suspenseful lilt of his hypnotic tone, “she is alone on her floor. Everyone else is long gone.”
There was a pause – one that Uriel was a tad flummoxed to find no one wanted to fill – and then Azrael continued. “When she could work no more, she gathered her belongings and headed to the floor’s elevator. There, she pressed the ‘down’ button and waited.”
“When the elevator doors opened, the woman was shocked to feel another body press rudely and quickly past her and enter the car. At first, she was simply dismayed that she was not as alone as she’d previously believed. However, when she regained her composure and looked up to see who had moved by her, she was amazed to find herself staring at no one other than the man in the white suit.”
“From her dream!” exclaimed Eleanore.
“No, from the hall the night before,” insisted Max.
Uriel blew out a sigh.
Azrael, however, seemed unperturbed by the interruption or disagreement. “Her surprise at seeing the man left her stunned and motionless until the elevator doors once more slid shut. Before she fully realized that she’d just missed her ride down, the elevator began to descend. A moment later, however, an odd popping sound reverberated through the floor beneath her feet. A second after that came the thunder of a crash.”
Real thunder rolled across the night sky outside, causing everyone but Azrael to jump.
“The elevator fell!” guessed Ellie breathlessly. She’d moved to the very edge of her couch cushion by this point and her hot chocolate was growing cold.
Michael pushed off of his station by the fireplace and moved to join them at the sofas. “When she took the stairs down,” he said, “it was to find the police were already on the scene because an alarm had sounded and the cops were nearby at the time.”
He would tell this part, thought Uriel. Michael worked as a cop in New York City, so this was his territory.
Michael went on. “She told the police what had happened to her and one of the officers took her statement. When he’d finished, he told her that she was lucky, that the elevator plummeted thirteen floors -”
“Seven,” interrupted both Max and Uriel. Michael shot them a reprimanding look, and Azrael actually chuckled. Everyone looked at him. The Angel of Death shrugged.
Michael narrowed his gaze. “And that if anyone had been in the elevator when it had fallen, they would have been dead on impact. The woman insisted that there had been someone on the elevator – she’d seen the man in white board it herself. But when they pried the doors open, it was to find the elevator empty.”
“So that’s why they call it the angel in the elevator story,” Ellie said.
“Urban legend,” Michael corrected.
“The man in white was supposed to be an angel who kept her from dying by stopping her from getting onto the elevator herself,” Ellie finished as if Michael hadn’t spoken.
“Yep,” came the general agreement from everyone in the room.
A brief silence followed, and then, “Can’t see Sam doin’ that either,” said Gabriel.
“Nope,” everyone agreed.
Max raised his brow and cocked his head to the side thoughtfully. “But I can see him holding the doors open and asking, ‘Going down?’”
Happy Halloween. XOXO