Saturday Storytime: A Member of the Wedding of Heaven and Hell

Richard Bowes is no stranger to writing about meddling gods and complicated universes. He did so in his 2005 novel From the Files of the Time Rangers, and he does it again here.

The Defiler didn’t so much walk as roll as if he were on treads to the passenger door. He opened it, bowed slightly, and offered his hand to a lovely dark-haired lady who looked to be in her early thirties. She wore a picture hat, stiletto heels, a little black dress and a string of pearls.

“And here’s the Fiend!” said Bob. The two straightened up and stood, each with his hands clasped at the small of his back.

The couple came toward them with the Defiler on the woman’s left and about three paces behind, his face blank, a fighting machine on medium alert. The Fiend looked right at them.

“Door demons, at ease,” she murmured when she was a short distance away, “Anything?” she asked Bill.

“Civilians: eighty-four so far,” he said softly, “Theirs and ours. About even. The heavenly host—the bride and half a dozen bridesmaids—are inside.”

“We got a roof demon on top of the church. And woods demons covering…” Bob started to tell her.

Without breaking stride, the Fiend looked around and, for an instant, flames brighter than the sun leaped up wherever she looked. They appeared on the grass, the walk, the front of the church, on the two door demons who now wore hairless green skin and glowing red eyes.

It lasted only a moment and then all was as before, except for just a hint of sulfur in the air. As the Fiend passed the two, she reached out and, faster than a human eye could follow, slipped her hand halfway into Bob’s chest and then drew it back.

Guests approaching blinked at the flash of pyrotechnics. Their noses crinkled slightly at the smell. Most thought it was all their imaginations.

When the Fiend, the Defiler and the wedding guests had gone up the steps Bill said quietly, “If the Fiend wants to know, She asks.”

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Saturday Storytime: A Member of the Wedding of Heaven and Hell
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