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Fallen Angel
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-019-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction
eBook Length: 314 Pages
Published: January 2003
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

Have you ever thought how much kinder, and gentler society would be if only women ruled the world? Author Sandra Faella has, and she offers us a glimpse of just such a future in her romantic fantasy ?Fallen Angel?.


Fallen Angel (Excerpt)


Chapter 1

~ Visits ~


She stared through the window. The naked limbs of the trees were lightly covered with the snow that had fallen the night before. The branches reached toward the warmth of the sun that crept out of the gray clouds. Erratic in its temperament, the wind could be heard roaring against the window. Her steps echoed down the bitterly cold hall. The floor reflected the windowís wintry scene like a mirror. Looking down at the surface she saw a familiar face. She bent down and touched the marble. It was absurd: a vain effort to wipe the tears off the cheeks of the young woman staring back at her. Cold. Ice cold. Her fingertips retracted, rubbing together. Her hair hung down in wild tendrils brushing the ground. Standing up, she pushed it back with both hands. She remembered what her mother had always said concerning her unmanageable mane.

"If you?re going to defy my wishes and keep it that long, please, do something with it."

Her mother had always styled it when she was young. Braids, curls, elaborate creations. Her hair was either complimented or looked at strangely. A six-year-old girl decorated with a changing head of hair. Her mother would scan fashion magazines for women from different eras and would make her head an exact copy of whatever her daughter fancied at the time. Whether a bouffant or flips, that hair always brought attention. It was dress-up every day. Her mother did it as much for herself as for the whim of an eccentric daughter. By 12 years of age she preferred to wear it straight down and sometimes unkempt.

"Why do you have to hide your face all the time?" Her mother would pull it back, only to watch her daughter brush it forward.

It was her one act of defiance. Looking back, she couldn?t remember doing anything else disobedient. Her hair became her comfort and security, the way it rested against her back. Now, in the frigid hall with her arms folded, she pulled at a lock on her forearm; a habit her mother had hoped she would stop.

She reached the halfway point and needed to walk nine more steps. Short steps. One, two, three, four, five. Slow steps she took once a week over the past six months. Six, seven, eight, nine steps. Turn to the left.

She looked straight ahead and her motherís name stared back, chiseled in a beautiful granite stone. Sarah Dumas 2323-2368. She saw her reflection distorted in the intricate detailing. She traced the name with her finger. Sarah Dumas. She always loved the way her mother recited their last name. The phony, French accent always made her smile. It had been a long time between smiles. Her forehead pressed against the stone. The cold soaked through her bones?into her brain. Whispering to her mother, she tried not to create a huge echo.

"Hi, Mom. Can you believe it? Snow in sunny Florida. I was supposed to come yesterday, but I had one of those creative explosions. I finished the painting. Think you would have liked it. Itís the angel you saw toward the end. The one you described the night you?" She stopped, her chest heaving. "I didn?t want to tell you about it ?til I finished it. Of course, you were probably watching me the whole time. At least, I hope you were. I had the hardest time with the eyes. You hadn?t told me what color they were. Blue was appropriate in the end. It sounded so sad when you explained it to me?I tried to express that through the eyes?like the colors of the sky when there are only a few clouds, but you know in an hour itís going to be raining. Took me a while to get the colors right. In the end I had to go through 10 canvases and two gallons of oils."

She paused remembering those torturous hours that resulted in disaster and led her to start from scratch. It had taken a while before she had hit that groove of creativity with this particular subject.

"I don?t know what else to tell you. The weekís been fine. Got a new project from Agniezka on Tuesday. They think itís the original ?Olympia? by Manet. I have my doubts, but it has been missing for quite some time. The chance of it being found in the basement of a Toronto apartment building is ludicrous, but stranger things have happened. We?ll see. That?ll keep me busy for a few months. Oh, and I?m thinking of taking Cat up on her offer to stay at her apartment. I know, itís stupid, but I don?t want to be alone in the house anymore. I hope you?re OK with that. She misses you and sends her love."

She stepped back and wiped away the tears with both hands, cradling her head. I miss you, Mom. I hope you?re okay. I hope you?re not in pain, but I wish you were still here...even if you were hurting. I know thatís selfish, but I don?t care. The thoughts ran on in her mind. Over and over. Coming here was hard. She always walked away much faster.

"I love you."

Leaving the crypt and heading toward the transport, she held her light fall coat around her neck. It was so strange, this weather. The last time it had snowed in Verona she was six. The door to the transport ?whooshed? shut. She wanted to get out of this place, but didn?t know where she should go. Home was not good. Cat was on another tour. Aggie was working, as always. No one around. A thought occurred. Perfect time.

She made the transport aware of her destination and off it went. Twenty minutes later the black vehicle was on the other side of Verona. The sky changed to a more ominous gray. Mother had warned her not to visit Jit alone. Since Mom had passed, there was no one in Verona who could accompany her. No one else knew and if they were made aware of the situation no one would bother. The harsh truth was no one would care.

This part of Verona was antiquated. The technological revolution had passed it by. There were hundreds of slums like it littering the landscape of the United States. Mother had made her aware of this. It was just another place that had been abandoned by the government and its ?honorable? citizens. They were neglected refugee camps for outcasts of one form in particular.

She passed a 24-hour laundromat, its front window cracked. The spot where the door should have been was exposed. The last time she visited Jit it was intact, as intact as a building could be in this part of town. There was trash everywhere. The wheels of the transport bounced against the decaying streets. The vibrations suggested she should take manual control of her transport. There was a good chance the automatic would go haywire due to the unreliability of the satellite signal.

Bars, mini-marts, row homes, were all in disgraceful states. Only one abandoned transport was parked near a curb. It looked 30 years old, rusty and without windows. A cat sprang out of the passenger side and sprinted across the street. She thought she spotted a fishtail in its jaws. These were common sights. Another woman might have been so disoriented she would have stopped in the middle of the road. She would have headed back to the highway. But this was commonplace for her. The silence and desertion did make her uneasy. She knew ops were in these buildings. Sleeping, drugging, whatever would pass the time until they could move around at nightfall. Mother had explained that it was too dangerous to visit Jit after sunset.

A guard transport made its way across another street heading west. Its horn went off, alerting everyone of its presence. She hoped she hadn?t been spotted. The last time she attempted a visit she had been questioned. She made up an excuse about getting off at the wrong interstate exit. The thoughtful escort home messed up her plan of visiting Jit that afternoon. This time she would be spared an inquisition. The guards kept moving.

Her transport turned a corner and parked in front of a house similar to the many others. Blue paint was peeling and a few windows lacked glass. Gray plastic covered the openings. The wood porch looked as if the slightest breeze would cause it to collapse. She blared the horn once, twice, three times. A minute later, the front screen door creaked open and a tall, slender figure appeared. He smiled and ran to the transport. She got out and welcomed his embrace. He led her inside.

Jit was a foot taller than she was. His stringy, dirty blond hair fell in front of his face, hiding his slate, gray-specked eyes. His jaw was prominent and well defined. His chin jutted out and leaned to the left just a bit, making his face look off balance. A small, pointed nose rested above two pouty lips.

Conversation was held on her end. Jit offered her a seat at the kitchen table consisting of an old teacherís desk and some lawn chairs. He placed a glass of water in front of her and sat down. He looked excited. She glared at the few black grains floating around in the drink. Not wanting to know what they might be she moved it away from her. Jit didn?t even notice. He was wrapped up in his need to communicate. His excitement caused him to sign too quickly for her.

"Hold on, Jit. Not as fast as Sarah was." Her hands moved with the words.

Jitís head rolled back in silent laughter. His mouth opened revealing the tongue, which had been horribly mutilated. She had cringed the first time she had seen that. Anger boiled in her when, at 10 years of age, her mother explained that all males received this procedure when they were born into society. Our society...

It had been an ordinary night. She expected her mother home from work at 5:00 and was finishing the dinner preparations. Soup and salad. She could remember the smell that was in the kitchen that night. Tomato, garlic, and onion coupled with oil and vinegar. Just as the dinner was laid out on the table she heard a loud bang from the living room and her mother yelled for her. Running into the room, she witnessed her mother in the doorway, gripping this small figure in her arms. She screamed for her daughter to get some towels, the first-aid kit, and clean clothes. She froze in terror. Her mother placed the limp body on the couch. She regained herself as she looked at her daughter.

"Samantha, honey, please go get them for me. We have to help this boy."

Boy. That word pounded in her brain as she ran up the steps to the bathroom to find the supplies. When she made her way back downstairs she saw her mother bent over the figure crying.

"Why do they have to do this?"

She placed everything near her motherís feet. "Who mom?"

"All of them."

Sam stared down at the body. The male was no older than she was. There was blood and mud smeared on his face. Some blades of grass stuck to his left cheek. It was impossible to tell what color his hair was for the same materials infected his scalp. Her mother took off his shirt, revealing a huge gash on his chest. His skin was pale except in a few areas that were covered with purple and gray bruises.

"Is he dead?" Sam sat on the coffee table, watching her mother inspect the wound.

"Almost."

She helped her mother. Getting water and more towels and placing the boyís clothes in the washer. When her mother had done all she could she carried him upstairs and placed him on her bed. She watched over him the whole night. Sam fell asleep at the foot of the bed. She didn?t want to leave her mother alone with this strange being. She awoke the next morning to a strange sight. Peering over the foot of the bed, she saw her mother moving her hands in unusual gestures. The young boy was watching her. They would take turns. He would do patterns with his hands and she would watch. Sam watched this, unseen. The boy turned to her and smiled. She waved awkwardly. Her mother motioned for her to approach.

"Ajit, this is Samantha, my daughter."

Sam walked behind her and whispered in her ear. "Mommy, what are you doing?"

"Itís called signing. I?m talking to Ajit."

"But why do you have to move your hands?"

"You make words with your hands."

She looked at the boy, who was staring out the window. "How old is he?"

Ajit put both hands in front of him, spacing his fingers.

"Ten?" Sam asked. "You can?t talk?"

He shook his head.

"Why not?"

"Samantha, go downstairs and give Cil a call. She should still be at the gallery. Tell her I need her to get over here as soon as possible, tell her itís an emergency. But don?t tell her about Ajit. We don?t want anyone to know, OK?"

"Is he in trouble?"

"Yes."

"What did he do?"

"Nothing, except be in a place that people didn?t want him to be. Now go and do as you?re told." Her mother ran her fingers through her daughterís curls.

"Yes, Mommy."

In the present, Jit was going on and on about his news. Sam could hardly believe it.

"When are you leaving?"

He pointed to the calendar on the wall.

"Saturday. This Saturday?"

He explained that Sarah had given him enough money to allow him to get out. She knew he wouldn?t be able to maintain an existence for very long without her to watch over him. Europe was a much better place for an op. Cil had arranged the trip since regular plane travel was out of the question. He joked that he would be able to find a woman overseas who would find him intriguing and mysterious.

"Strong, silent type?" Sam said, smiling. "You know, you can stay with me."

Jit scowled at her. He knew, as well as she did, that it would get her in trouble and him in custody.

Sam blurted, "I?m going to miss you."

He signed, repeating the phrase.

"Who am I going to watch movies with and talk to about stupid things? You?re the only male I know."

He signed.

"Don?t say those things. Itís not your fault you?re that way. You are a whole man. A wonderful person. And someone will see that?and love you completely. Like Sarah did."

He smiled and looked out the window. She headed for the door.

"I?ll visit again before you leave."

Jit shook his head and told her it wasn?t safe. He had last minute preparations and he didn?t want any guards to become suspicious. He hugged her and kissed her cheek.

"I?m not going to see you again?"

Jit shrugged his shoulders and signed.

"I love you, too."

She ran off the porch. Safely in the transport, she turned on the radio. Her eyes filled with tears as she watched her friend retreat from the screen door, into the blackness, gone from view.

Cat walked out of the bedroom. "Sam, have you seen my keycard? Sam?"

Sam was looking out the bay window, her waist length hair pulled back in a ponytail. Cat walked up behind her and pulled it.

"Hey!" Sam whipped around and assumed a defensive position.

Cat grinned. "My keycard. Have you seen it?"

"I put it on the counter. Found it under the bed again."

"If I go through another one, Sue is going to kill me."

Sam sat on the sofa. "Not a very good sign of a stable relationship, losing your loverís keycard all the time."

Cat headed to the fridge for some juice. Her black, neck-length hair bounced in tempo to her steps. Sam marveled at how she moved. Like a cat. The dancer in her shone through every graceful movement. Cat was a beautiful, nymph of a woman. Funny, outgoing, and running on all cylinders, she was a personality magnet. Her almond-shaped eyes radiated heat and energy and made it clear there was no way of fooling her. She and Sam could have conversations with very few words, but everything expressed. Most of it through those eyes.

"Cat, I think I?m ready to go back."

"Are you sure?" She placed a glass from the cabinet down on the counter.

Sam nodded. "Itís time. Besides, you?ve got a life of your own and I?m just getting in the way here."

"You?re not in the way."

"Well, I feel like I am. And you?ve got the theater tour coming up. I?m going to be by myself anyway?might as well be at home where I belong."

"You won?t be by yourself." Cat grabbed the remote off the table and accessed the message screen. "Got this last night when I came in, didn?t want to wake you."

As Sam watched the screen, a familiar face appeared.

"Hello, sweet Sammy, how are we this evening?" Cil was wearing a bright red blazer that matched her hair.

"Itís an improvement from the mauve wig," Cat muttered.

Sam motioned for her to keep quiet.

"Cat, darlin?, I hope you?re well. Just calling to check in." Cilís southern drawl caused both of them to giggle. "I?ll be on retreat for a week, so I won?t have access to VC. I have some good news. The Vinto Gallery Art Tour has been canceled. Well, itís not good news for me, not enough public interest." Her hand flew up in front of her face, waving away a thought. "I?m going to be heading to Florida for some acquisitions in a month. I?ll be in the vicinity of Verona for two weeks and insist on making a pain of myself by staying at the house. I?ll talk to you soon to discuss the arrangements. I love you, Sam. Take care. Bye, Cat."

The screen turned blue and asked if the message wished to be saved. Sam hit the ?yes? button.

Cat said, "Just what you needed, a crazy person running around your house unsupervised. Thatís as good of a reason as any to move back."

Cat hit another button on the remote and the news appeared. She finished preparing her juice breakfast in the kitchen.

Sam called, "If itís all right with you, I?ll drag my stuff out of here this weekend."

"Oh, that?ll be perfect. I?ve got Saturday off so I can help you." She brought two juice glasses back to the sofa. "I don?t want you to think that you?re ever an inconvenience, OK? I wouldn?t have asked you to stay here if I didn?t want you. You know that. I love having you around. You were alone in that house for too long."

"I know. But every time I go back to check in I have this itch, like itís time."

Cat placed her hand over Samís and squeezed. It was settled. Catís attention turned to the screen.

"Oh, look."

The headline next to the newscaster read RAPIST in bright red letters.

"It must be about the op in California. The one they caught last week."

The newscaster began. "The arraignment of the alleged serial rapist of 10 women in Los Angeles began today, April 13, in the Los Angeles City/County Courtroom Building. Sixteen-year-old Alistair was led in through the back entrance, hands and ankles cuffed, surrounded by guardians wearing bulletproof gear."

A picture of the young male flashed on the screen. Everything about him gave the impression he?d been living in dumpsters since the day he was born. His eyes stared into you. But they were cold, unemotional. Sam could see Cat shiver from the corner of her eye.

"Threats on Alistairís life have been coming in at the retention building where he has stayed for the past week in Santa Monica. Hundreds of citizens stood outside the courtroom carrying picket signs, demanding justice for the heinous crimes Alistair is accused of committing. The one question on everyoneís lips is how this young male managed to be given the opportunity to commit these acts in the first place."

The screen shot was of a bunch of women picketers by the signs. Sound bites began.

"How this op was allowed to walk the streets uncastrated is beyond me. What does that tell you about the safety of this city?"

"Heís an animal and he deserves to be put in a lot of pain and killed."

"All I can think about are those women. They were brutalized and now could find out they are positive."

"Californiaís laws gotta change. We?re one of the only states that doesn?t have mandatory castration."

"This is a wake up call."

"They need to stay underground like the rats that they are."

"Efforts to treat these males with some humanity are ridiculous. Look at what they?ve done. We don?t need to revert to that. They?ve proved themselves to be useless."

The newscaster continued, "Representative Laura Atwood feels it is time to take care of the situation before it becomes out of hand. In a press conference today she promised to make sure the appropriate laws are passed to prevent another devastating tragedy: ?The State of California has managed to get through 30 years without one single reported rape by a male. We should not let this one instance scare the entire population. This may be just what the House needs in order to move quickly on passing the appropriate laws to prevent this from happening again.? Prosecutors feel confident that enough evidence will be provided to guarantee a criminal trial. One that will lead to the conviction of Alistair and a death penalty. This will prove a long and arduous task."

The monitor turned black. Sam held the remote in her hand for a long time.

"God, itís so awful." Cat finished her juice and grabbed both the glasses.

"That Atwood... " Sam began.

She wondered if Ajit was safe. Cat knew nothing about him. Keeping him a secret had been one of the hardest things for Sam. Only Cil knew about him now.

"Sheís a hell of a woman, thatís for sure. Doesn?t take any shit." Sam heard the glasses clink together in the sink. "Well, I?m off. You heading into work today?"

"Not ?til 2:00."

"Whose turn is it to cook?"

Sam pointed at Cat. "I?ll pick up something on the way home."

She ran out the door.

Letís see if she remembers. I?ll give her to the count of five. One, two, three, four...

The door opened. Cat didn?t make eye contact with Sam. She walked to the counter, grabbed her keycard, and headed back out the door. Sam was about to open her mouth when she heard Cat in the hall.

"Don?t even start, Sam."