Each Wednesday I publish a new scene from the novel I am calling “The Memory Book.”
Gus in the hands of the Fae
The Memory Book, Scene 10
A Windowless Room
They put him in an Azael rig, a complicated vest of leather and brass that imprisons Gus’s arms and prevents him from deploying his wings. It is named after Azael, a mythical angel who perpetrated evil acts on humans but reserved a special brand of torture for the Fae, who claim to have captured him, amputated his wings, inflicted him with razors, fire and whips before disemboweling him and feasting as he died.
His captors do not seem to notice that Gus has no wings, and they don’t appear to be curious about the red blood seeping from his wound. It doesn’t matter. The last of the elixir is in his jacket pocket, and his clothes have vanished. In a matter of days he will transform.
So, let them believe he is himself, an angel of the powers sect, from the class of servants to Beatrix. Her leadership belongs to someone else now, someone whose neck, Gus imagines on a daily basis, is being throttled personally by Gus’s two hands.
They seem delighted when he winces as they cinch the shirt around his wound. Gus keeps his balance, stands straight, towers over them. They aren’t afraid of him. The Fae fear nothing; Gus admires this.
Wynne, standing near the sleeping porch windows, the bright daylight behind her concealing her face, does nothing to assist. She stands wordlessly, one hand on the table beside her; Gus can see her fingers tapping its surface.
“Thank you for your hospitality, Wynne,” Gus tells her. His voice is strained with pain, but he has to thank her. She’s a spy in the house of angels. Will she go back, he wonders, to the Village? Who is she spying for? And do her compatriots arresting him know what she has been doing?
She makes no reply, but her fingers stop drumming the table top.
They march him down the stairs; they talk with one another, about a football game someone lost money on, and another’s child winning a spelling contest, and another’s efforts to diet. They are silly-sounding, but Gus knows that this is how they disarm; in less than a second they could begin to tear him apart.
There are five of them; the largest, a male and a female, grip the straps on either side of Gus. Two are in the lead, and one behind. They wear the colorful patchwork jackets of the Fae security force. Ruthless, canny liars all, one moment promising freedom and the next condemning to death.
Gus’s knees weaken; his breath is short, but he is straight and tall as they escort him from the five story building planted firmly in the hillside, where, on the sloping sidewalk, they deploy their wings and lift Gus skyward.
The pain is dreadful, and Gus wakes as they land; he didn’t realize he had passed out. They are on a roof; in the distance, through a mist, Gus can see the pinnacles of the Keep. He stumbles as they walk him to a shaft where a lift awaits; they laugh at him.
The lift bullets downward; Gus can’t capture the number of floors but he knows that when the lift stops, he is underground. They enter a featureless corridor; doors every several feet are shut tight. One, near the end, is open, and they push Gus into the room.
He manages to stay upright. The door snaps shut behind him. There is no window, no furnishings; light emanates from the seams between the ceiling and the walls. It is cold, but at least dry. He gasps for breath as he eases himself to the floor and leans against a wall. All he can do now is wait until that door opens again.
And then we shall see.
© Jill Zeller, April, 2020