The Doom that Came to SLO-Town
Simon's visions in Black and White
And so it begins…
Brightness crept into Simon’s eyes as he woke. He shifted on the cold, hard pavement. His mind tingled somewhere between a buzz and a meditation. It was quiet, except for chimes in the distance.
He felt more of the tingling as he sat up to look around. Then he noticed his body wasn’t sitting up with him. He jerked away from his own body, which still lay on the pavement atop a brightly-glowing puddle. Although the only light in the area came from the puddle, it lit the area like a focused spotlight.
A voice broke the silence from behind him. “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come.” Simon turned to see a white-suited man step into the circle of light formed by the puddle. The man pulled a small iPad from his jacket and began to type something. “Tell me: Are you ready for the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Simon’s mouth, the one on the body in the puddle, stammered out a few words. “Heaven? Am I…dead?”
“You expired not three minutes ago,” the man in white replied while still swiping away. Then he stopped. “I am sorry. I am so sorry. But it seems you are not Heaven-bound.”
Just then another voice joined the conversation from the other side of the circle. “Then we’ll take him from here. Always room for one more in Hell.” Simon turned to see a dark-suited man step into the circle of light, which had receded a bit from the man. He carried his own small iPad, almost as if engaging the man in white in a Mortal Kombat game, with Simon in the middle.
“It seems your ride is here, Simon,” the man in white said.
The man in black furled his brow as he swiped at his iPad. “We cannot take him.”
Simon could feel something from the man in black. It was something he hadn’t felt since that trip to Tijuana. The man in black was afraid. Fear oozed from him like blood must have oozed from the unseen wound in Simon’s body. As it did, the tingling grew in Simon’s mind, like he was getting high off of the dark-suited man’s fear.
The puddle began to dim. Simon’s corpse struggled less as he spoke again. “Why not?”
The man in black continued to address the man in white. “If we take him, we risk breaking one of the Seals.”
Then Simon began to feel that delicious fear drip from both men. “Are you saying you cannot risk allowing me to stay dead?”
The puddle grew dimmer. The two men stared at each other, as if sharing a conversation solely through their collective fear.
“You must walk the world forever,” the men said in unison, just as everything went dark.
Coming to terms with my Darkest Self (Episode 7, 19 Feb):
Simon stood over Lilith’s unconscious body, her blood on his hands. The man in the black suit stood to his left and the man in the white suit to his right. Each dropped the fragments of his broken iPad to the floor.
The man in white spoke first. “What have you done?”
Simon choked back the tears at the realization that his hunger for fear had consumed him, at the cost of whatever he had just done to Lilith. “What have I done?”
The man in black stumbled backward. “The Seal is broken.”
The man in white stammered, “You’re not who we thought you were.”
Simon glared at him in rage. “With all the dead people walking about, how could you notice? But I’m starting to see something.”
“What do you see, Simon?”
“I’m not human.”
The man in black shouted, “You know that’s not true!” But his quivering lower lip betrayed his half-lie. And his terror.
Rather than feed, though, Simon choked back vomit, like someone who had parked too long at the buffet. “The only thing I can’t figure out is why Lilith deserves wrath.”
The man in white stammered, “She’s a monster, like all the others. But why do you say wrath?”
“I say wrath because that’s what I am. An angel of wrath, sent to take out the trash because you fuckers won’t lift one damned finger to save this world!” Simon turned to the man in black. “And you, laughing and lying and bringing Hell to my town. Why?”
The man in black replied, “We don’t know why. She’s not from around here.”
“That’s what people keep saying.” Simon stared back to Lilith, and a wave of guilt threatened to take him. “You fuckers better run, before you find out firsthand who I am.”
The men in suits vanished without another word, leaving Simon only with his guilt.
What Simon didn’t see was the trembling form of Lizzy Ashbury, peeking through the window behind him.
(During Episode 8, 26 Feb)
The man in white and the man in black crouched in the shadows as the sleek, black Lincoln Towncar rolled up to the gate of the Dandy mansion. Each man jabbed a finger at his own brand new iPad.
“We cannot allow this upstart to shift the balance of power,” the man in white whispered.
“I’ll make you a deal,” the man in black replied. “I’ll introduce him to the other powers, painfully. In the end, though, his friends are mine to claim.”
“That’ll have to do. Deal.” The man in white made a circular motion on his iPad and then swiped toward the man in black.
“Good. Because I’ll be calling in a number of favors of my own to make this happen.” The man in black swiped toward himself, then made a few keystrokes. “Open call. Select all recipients. Forward call. Simon Parker.”
Simon stared at the keypad controlling the gate. As the numbers jumbled in his mind, he began working the math in his head. But something was wrong. He suddenly saw himself in the center of the school’s basketball court, but instead of his fellow students, the bleachers were packed with otherworldly entities. He could pick out a few from his readings: a human-sized Cthulhu, a number of demons and angels, Nyarlathotep, the head of the Great Hunt. The denizens of the bleachers jeered him with all the hate they could muster, and it threatened to drown Simon.
Another being, perhaps female, but one on whose features Simon could not focus, entered the gymnasium. Even through the cacophony, Simon could hear the clicks of her heels as she strode up to him. Although he couldn’t bring his mind to make out any other details of the being, he felt drawn to her.
She slapped him.
In an instant, Simon found himself laying on the back seat of the Towncar. Lilith stood outside the open door, glaring at him.
“Snap out of it, Simon.”
(During Episode 9, 4 Mar)
The jackal Ivo ripped out Simon’s throat. The gash went as far as the carotid artery on one side. Blood spurted from the wound at first, then the spurting became more of an oozing, and then eventually it stopped altogether.
Ivo taunted her and Lilith as he backed away from them. “I wonder if he will see the men in black and white this time.” Lilith and Molly had injured the other two jackals, Danko and Pedrag, who were now limping away.
Molly kept screaming.
Lilith said flatly, “He’s just dead again. He’ll be back in a while.” She looked on with an apathy that caused Molly to fall silent.
Simon died. Again.
This time didn’t feel like the last. Maybe he was getting used to dying, or maybe something new was happening. He sat up from his body and realized he was no longer on the beach but in a forest clearing with a large house. It took merely a glimpse to convince him he’d found the House of Dust.
The man in black looked down on Simon from Ivo’s bedroom window. “Well, that’s an interesting turn of events,” he whispered to the man in white, who stood next to him. “Our young Simon has found the House of Dust.”
“This is getting out of hand,” the man in white answered.
Simon’s spirit stood up from his body as a pool of light grew around its throat. He took in the sights, hoping to discover clues about where he was, and praying his friends Emma Lee, Lilith, and Molly hadn’t shared in his fate. He didn’t see the men in suits, but somehow he felt their presence.
“I have an idea,” the man in black suggested. “Perhaps it’s time for the House of Dust to find Simon. Surely he’ll return once he’s resurrected, and then the House of Dust can have him.”
The other formed an evil grin that belied his white suit. “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.” He suppressed a laugh that otherwise would have given away their location.
Simon awoke in the trunk of a car. “Here we go again,” he sighed. “Well, at least it’s a nice trunk.”
The next day…
Lilith, Molly, and Simon hiked into the woods for a few hours and, sure enough, they found the House of Dust. After about an hour of exploration, they finally came upon the Testament of Carnamagos. Simon reached for the book.
The man in black intoned, unheard by the teenagers. “We offer this vessel for you in sacrifice.”
The man in white chimed in. “And as a peace offering.”
“Never mind, my dear,” Carnamagos said to Emma Lee somewhere else. “I have found another way.”
Simon found himself outside his school, staring at the statue of Friar Carnamagos. He overheard the disembodied voice broadcasting through the aether toward Emma Lee. Then the voice of the statue directed toward Simon.
“Your fellow angels have given you to me,” the statue said. “To keep you in line, and to keep their precious balance of power in place.”
“Those bastards,” Simon replied.
“You will serve me.”
“I will do no such damned thing.”
“Your only hope is to serve me willingly. But I don’t have time for that, so your body will serve me anyway. Your friend Emma Lee needs some reinforcement.”
“So it’s worse than I imagined. Even the angels have betrayed this world.”
(During Episode 10, 11 Mar)
Simon found himself in a darkened room, the only lights coming from candles surrounding the rim of what looked like a baptismal font. He could see a dark form outlined in the candlelight on the other side of the font but couldn’t make out any details. In the surface of the water inside the font, Simon saw the image of his own hands, texting Emma Lee on his own cell phone, “Meet me at the statue.”
“No! Leave my friends alone!” Simon struggled but couldn’t move. He realized he was being held in place by a man on either side of him. As he tore his gaze from the font, he saw the man in black holding his left arm and shoulder and the man in white holding his right.
“Just give in,” the men in black and white intoned in unison.
“Damn you,” was all the resistance Simon could muster as his gaze returned to the images in the font.
The next image was at the statue of Friar Carnamagos, as Simon’s body talked to Emma Lee. “I have brought you a gift.” Simon could see Devon hiding behind a tree nearby, probably within earshot. Carnamagos seemed content to ignore Devon’s eavesdropping, and Simon hoped that would turn out to be a mistake his dear friend could exploit.
As Carnamagos continued to ignore—or possibly taunt—the presence of Devon at the meeting, Simon’s body frightened Emma Lee. “Simon isn’t here right now.”
“Who is here?” Emma wondered.
“You know who I am. I have another task for you, if you want to continue on your path to power.”
Simon could feel the fear leaking from Emma Lee like a broken sprinkler, but it was like a too-small hors d’oeuvre to the hunger pangs he suddenly felt.
Other images flashed in the mirror surface of the font’s water, but the next one on which Simon could focus was at the yacht party. A hood of some sort was just being removed from Simon’s head. No, not a hood, the head of the Carney Coyote costume he’d made several months before. Again, Emma Lee was there, and Simon felt something from her, a mixture of innocence and regret. “Can I talk to Simon?” she asked Simon’s face.
Simon couldn’t help himself. He shouted at the image, as if he were watching the stereotypical blonde wander off alone in a slasher flick. “Help me!”
The grips on his arms and shoulders grew tighter.
“Simon says, ‘Help me.’” Carnamagos drew out the quotation of Simon as if to taunt both Simon and Emma Lee, and then he chuckled.
The next image was walking below decks of the yacht, toward one of the staterooms, staring at Emma Lee’s ass. She led him into the stateroom, where he found his friends had come through for him. Molly was preparing a spell, Quintin held an axe as if it were the final solution, and Lilith and Devon were standing by to help him as well. There wasn’t an actual “Intervention” banner hanging, but there was a chalk circle drawn in the floor.
“See that, you bastards?” Simon asked the men in black and white as he admired those gathered to help him in the font’s image. “That’s where you fucked up.” Simon could feel his friends’ plan coming together, and he couldn’t help taunting his captors a little after his ordeal.
“They cannot succeed,” the dark form replied from across the font. “I am too ancient, too evil for them. You are mine, for the other angels have given you to me.” He leaned in over the candles just enough for Simon to see the grin on his face.
Then Carnamagos’ triumphant grin turned into a snarl of frustration.
Light flowed from the font into Simon as Molly cast her spell. Carnamagos knew of the protective gift Lilith had given Simon weeks before, and he tried to trigger it. But the gift refused to activate, as if part of Lilith’s consciousness had stayed with it to deny him.
The men in black and white panicked, and the energy of Molly’s incantation burst forth from Simon and tossed them like ragdolls away from him.
The next thing he knew, he was back in his body, staring up into Lilith’s eyes from the circle of chalk. The fatigue left him as her gaze seemed to pour energy into him like a Starbucks quad-shot. Simon was moved almost to tears.
(Following Episode 12, 1 Apr)
“You do know she is doomed, right?” The man in black asked Simon from across the table, in what must have been an interrogation room. The light shone in Simon’s face, as if intended to blind him, but he saw dimly through it.
“Why do you do this to her? Lead her to her death like this?” The man in white tried to be the `good cop’ of this interrogation, but somehow failed.
“Who are you talking about?” Simon didn’t really understand at first, though the feeling had been gnawing at him for a while.
“Marisol,” the man in black intoned, as if he’d prepared a list.
“Lana,” the man in white read from the same list.
“Lizzy. Did you ever see her entire video of that night?” The man in black was definitely playing the `bad cop’.
Each name hit Simon like a punch in the gut, driving home that every girl he’d thought of dating had been doomed to some ill fate from the beginning.
The last blow caused him to snap. “Why?” Simon screamed into the interrogation lamp that grew dimmer with each name.
“Welcome to life as an angel, you poor soul,” the man in white replied with a sigh. “No one will survive the wrath of the Lord. Not even you. It’s the price you will pay for who you were born to be.”
“I think it’s designed to keep you angry,” the man in black added.
(During Episode 14, 6 May)
Simon’s eyes drifted open as he tossed and turned. The glowing numbers on his alarm clock read “2:57 AM”.
“I guess I slept enough on the morgue table,” he whispered to himself as he turned again.
He finally drifted off to sleep, but only for a moment. His eyes snapped open, glowing with white flame.
“What’s going on?” Simon asked, as if someone could hear him, as he felt himself floating away from his body.
“One of the problems with an angel developing human attachments, I suppose,” the man in black said with a smirk.
The man in white finished the thought. “You’re being summoned to one of your friends in danger. It can become inconvenient at times. Even if you learn to control it, you’ll still feel the distraction, like a phone ringing too loud in the back of your head.”
Simon’s glowing eyes looked down onto a new scene, invisible to those around him, from above the burning brazier. It was Leastwick Park, where Lilith and he had been just a few hours ago. There was a ritual going on, and Lilith was walking like a stilted zombie toward Piper Stevens, who was holding a candle whose flame had formed into an effigy of Lilith under Piper’s blowing lips.
Simon could feel their magic creeping through Lilith’s mind, searching for a way in to force her to join them. Adrenaline flooded through Simon as he willed himself to act. Fiery wings exploded between Piper and the brazier, and Simon’s body materialized. His wings burned away as quickly as they appeared, like embers being blown away from a bonfire.
“This party DOES suck,” Simon’s voice boomed, in response to one of the junior cult members.
Meanwhile, back at the Parker home, Amos Parker burst into his son’s room to put out the small fire that had appeared in Simon’s bed in place of his body.
Near the end of Episode 15 (adapted from the Fury’s Darkest Self, because sometimes it speaks to me):
Simon tossed the useless cell phone into the passenger seat. Any harder and it might have been a sidearm pitch. “Fuck it.” He leaned against the black Escalade, watching himself from the outside.
“Nobody wants you,” the man in black said from Simon’s left. “Nobody ever will.”
The man in white joined in as if reciting a litany of fury. “It’s all pain and loneliness and watching other people from the outside, and it will never change.”
The man in black took his turn. “They only pretended to like you so they could hurt you even more. There’s nothing left for you here but revenge, so burn it all down. Smash everything to pieces. Rip their secrets out and make them dance like dolls for your amusement.”
“That’s not what’s going on here.” Simon strained to talk through motionless lips and the burning hate growing in his eyes.
“Isn’t it?” the man in white said. “If you were sent as an angel of wrath, isn’t it about time that wrath took over?”
“Do your job,” the man in black prodded. “Destroy them, bring down everything they care about. For the glory of God.”
But it wasn’t hate in Simon’s eyes. Simon began to realize it was the same glow he’d felt a few nights ago, when he’d first uncased his wings at Leastwick Park. Someone was in danger, someone he still cared about. He tried to see who and where that someone was, but his vision refused to clear.
“We’re not done with you yet, Simon.” The man in black sneered. “Whoever she is, you will destroy her, either now by failing her or later by killing her.”
The man in white kept trying to break Simon. “It is the way of things. You cannot love, for she would be a stone to you. Either a millstone around your neck or her gravestone to tear at your soul.”
“You’re close to the truth now, Simon.”
“You cannot help her. Better to let her face her judgment without you.”
“I have to try.” Simon cried into the light burning in his eyes. And then the light dimmed and his vision cleared to reveal the crowd at The Groove. Somehow, despite the glowing eyes and the shiny Escalade, Simon had still remained unseen by those around him, almost as if he weren’t really there.
And then he wasn’t.
The Escalade and The Groove vanished from around Simon and were replaced by a circular library, with several floors of shelves surrounding a large open area, filled with weapons of ink and of steel, lit by skylights and candles.
But Simon could find no door, no men in black and white, no burning in his eyes. Only a strange peace and books waiting to be read.
Days passed, and Simon pulled tome after tome from the shelf. Each day he would read a shelf full of books and eat only what appeared on the table, a small round of bread and a flask of wine. He never slept.
One day, he heard Christmas carols in the distance. Again, the skylights would light and grow dim.
Finally, after several weeks in the library, Simon found a note tucked into one of the books:
Simon looked up from the note, stunned by the knowledge of what had come to pass. Only moments later did he notice a door, in the same wall from which he had heard the Christmas carols a week prior. The door opened.
Sometime later, Simon showed up at Emma Lee’s door.
(During Episode 19, 24 June)
Simon and Marisol shuddered with passion on the beach, and then the moonlight brightened as if to drown out the ocean view. The tides froze as if the two teens had stepped into a single slice of time.
“So we’re going here again,” the man in black intoned as he stepped into the beam of moonlight. “How unfortunate for you, Simon. And for you as well, Marisol. Let me show you what must happen.”
The scene changed, and Simon was chasing Marisol down the middle of a street. He was dark and more muscular, with jet black wings, but he was Simon nonetheless. When he finally caught Marisol, he threw her to the ground and bit into her abdomen so forcefully that her blood sprayed like juice from a squashed orange.
They returned to the moonbeam.
“Who is this pendejo?” Marisol cursed at the man in black. “And what’s going on?”
“You can see him?” Simon was stunned. “That’s a new one.”
“She can see us, Simon,” the man in white answered as he stepped in from the other side of the moonbeam. “To answer your question, Marisol, I am an angel and he is a demon,” he gestured toward the man in black. “We are guardians of the Gates and judges of humanity. We are also Simon’s mentors.”
“Mentors?” Simon retorted. “You’re kidding, right? With what you’ve done to me, you’re about as much mentors as Jacob and Edward.”
“Oh, come now, Simon,” the man in black defended their actions. “You have gone through a number of trials, and you’ve passed them all.”
“Judges?” Marisol interjected. “You mean like we’ve died?”
“Yes, and no,” the man in white answered. “You haven’t died, though Simon has a few times. But Simon’s work isn’t done yet, so he keeps getting sent back. This meeting is because Simon’s peculiar…gift…has dragged you into one of his visions. This is where we come to play. And to teach.”
“You will die soon, though, and at Simon’s hand,” the man in black warned Marisol. “Simon is an Angel of Wrath, and the Wrath of the Lord spares no one, not even His angels, and especially not their lovers.”
The man in white issued a final warning to Marisol. “It is up to Simon and his friends to bring meaning to your death. Only then can your life be judged.”
Simon cradled the dying Marisol in his arms. Rage and grief filled his eyes as tear after tear vaporized before finishing the trip down his face. Marisol’s killer had escaped, perhaps for the better because the body of Betty Swain was also an innocent victim of the true killer.
As Marisol took her final breath, Simon knew in his heart there was only one thing left to do. If he could not save her body, he could at least try to save her soul. Simon remembered those times he had uncased his wings unconsciously to save his friends and, fueled by the emotional connection he had forged with Marisol, he forced himself to uncase his wings once more.
Simon and Marisol vanished from the Earth, perhaps never to be seen again.
They materialized in a dazzling white room. A bald woman in matching white robes greeted them. “Welcome.”
It was Marisol who spoke next. “Hola,” she could barely say as she forced her eyes open. She didn’t finish her usual catchphrase.
“You’ve bypassed the usual procedure, Simon.” The robed woman gazed into Simon’s eyes. “You should have gone to Cain and Abel for judgement.”
“With so much going on in San Luis Obispo, I had to act…” Simon retorted.
“You let your feelings for her get in the way,” the robed woman cut him off. She then gazed through Marisol for a moment that seemed like an eternity. “But, in this case, an exception can be made. Aside from a few minor infractions, Marisol in an innocent.”
A door-shaped section of one of the walls somehow managed to glow brighter. The robed woman gestured toward it. “Marisol, you may pass on to Heaven.”
Simon took a step toward the portal, Marisol still cradled in his arms.
“Only Marisol, Simon,” the robed woman interrupted him. “I’ll need to speak with you alone for a moment.”
As Simon let Marisol down, he noticed she was gazing past him. Then Simon realized his wings were still out. “Go on ahead, Marisol,” Simon requested. “It’s all right.”
Marisol left Simon’s arms and stepped through the portal. The portal dimmed to match the already-dazzling ambient light.
“Cain warned you, no doubt,” the robed woman said. “The Wrath of the Lord spares no one, not even His angels, and especially not their lovers. This was goodbye for the both of you.”
“What does that mean?” Simon felt betrayed, in one of the few places he’d known it shouldn’t happen.
“You’ve saved an innocent soul. Good for you. That’s unusual for an angel of wrath. And it earns my respect, for what it’s worth.”
“However,” the robed woman continued. “You must know there is no place for you in Heaven. That is why you were rejected in the first place. Angels do not live in Heaven, we only work there. And there is no work for an angel of wrath in Heaven.”
Much as he wanted to feel angry at the woman’s words, anger just wouldn’t fill him. Instead, Simon suddenly felt tired, then exhausted.
“You’ll be called when needed,” the woman intoned as Simon’s eyelids dropped closed.
The robed woman snapped her fingers.
“Arise, Simon,” she ordered him. “The Lord our God commands you to execute His wrath once more.”