I don’t normally posts sneak peeks this incredibly long but I am ridiculously happy with the way this has come out. AND, since I haven’t had the floodgates open in such a long time I thought I’d share it with you. Feedback is always appreciated.
Yes, for a very short time (like 15 minutes) I tried to post this as “premium content” and garner myself a buck a reader for my troubles. That did not appear to work as WP promises. So here it is….free of charge.
Trigger Warning: This chapter…and the whole friggin’ novel….contains religious content that may make some people angry and may make others laugh. If you’ve a sense of humor, you are warmly invited to come on in and witness as Eve and Chuck become full blown characters in this suspenseful and very sassy chapter. If you are easily offended…why are you even here? This is no place for you. Shoo.
The Curse of Eve
October 31, 1971
For thousands upon thousands of years Eve wandered the earth under what was, arguably, the worst curse God ever laid upon anyone. Yet, Eve made the best of it when and wherever she could. When the nights closed in upon her threatening to cease her with its icy claws, she reminded herself that she was Living History. Only two others like her could say the same. She may be alone and she may always be tired and hungry, but she had seen the rise and fall of Rome, been there for both in fact. She’d watched as her descendants crawled out of their caves and into the light only to harness the power of fire.
Yes, they were cruel to each other just as Lucifer had tried in vain to warn his Father. They committed horrible atrocities in the names of pitiful things like money, power, and even religion. They slaughtered in each other in war and oppressed each other in chains.
Yet, most of them seemed to learn from these terrible events. When they were over, her children picked themselves off, dusted themselves off, and went forever forward. In awe, she stood by and took in the sights of them exploring the deepest depths of Poseidon’s oceans and began their journey toward the breadth of Universe. Just last year they landed on the moon and the wonder of television showed it all to her.
In stark contrast, just last month the same television showed her the sorrowful images of students being gunned down at a university not that far from her.
Even as she wandered trapped in her own living hell, she feared and hoped for her children. Lucifer had been right but so had God. Perhaps good old Chuck hadn’t designed them to hold both Light and Dark within them but that had been the result just the same.
So, in the end, what Chuck had done to Eve turned out to be both blessing and curse.
Eve was proud to be called The Mother of Humanity by those who still remembered her fondly but most, to this day, still cursed her for getting that same Humanity tossed out of Paradise. If only they knew the truth and not the half-truths and blatant lies the many versions the Bible bandied about trading on the ignorance and fear of her very own children.
Three days after Man first stepped foot on the moon, as she got a job working in a soup kitchen in Chicago. It seemed to her that the longer the war went on and the more soldiers that came home broken and wounded, the more the homeless population grew even as others wandered about shouting for peace and others still took to the streets to assert their Civil Rights. The faces of the soldiers who had seen and done so much more than the other two groups could possibly imagine, they were haunting as they came through the line were almost hollow and their eyes vacant with lingering sorrow and horror as they muttered ‘thank you’ and went past.
The people also working there were nice enough but they kept their distance from her as all of them did. Well, most of them, those that did not keep a good distance always meant her harm, some succeeded and some failed in that endeavor. After all, she was only immortal, she had no powers beyond that of her unnaturally long life.
Eve as she always did, she smiled at all of them, was gracious, polite, and never failed to offer her assistance whenever she saw it may be needed.
While she lived long, the curse prevented her from garnering wealth and riches. Money became exceedingly important very early on in History and, if she were any other immortal, she’d have more money than the richest country by now. But she was not any other immortal. While she learned everything she possibly could—Eve was almost always attending one class or another at any nearby college—the curse forced her to take jobs in poor areas wherever she lived. She worked in soup kitchens or homeless shelters or schools for the most part. Although, she had been known to take refuge in the Catholic Church from time to time and had spent a few centuries as Catholic Nun. Whenever she thought about that, she wondered what God would think of that and then she’d laugh. Whenever she managed to save up more than a hundred dollars with the hope of buying herself just some small pretty thing, the curse compelled her to give it away to the next charity box she saw.
She moved into a tiny one bedroom apartment on the third floor of a rundown building on 43rd Street in the New City section of Chicago. A bad neighborhood to be sure but it was what she could afford and it was where she could do the most good given her extenuating circumstances. The apartment, like the building, was crumbling, dirty, and in dire need of a lot of TLC. It was home, at least for now, it was a roof over her head and a floor at her feet. Over thousands she’d come to understand that she didn’t need much more than that.
Except for one rather unexpected thing, a wonderful, almost magickal thing that came to her in the form of a dog who adopted her. A week after she got her job she was walking home and a scraggy stray just wandered up to her. That never happened. The hungry, tired, and bone weary black Labrador sat politely at her feet as he looked up at her with his big sad eyes. “Do you want to come home with me, boy?” Eve asked hesitantly as she stooped down to pet him and was surprised when he seemed relieved. She took a closer look for a collar and found none. The landlord would be quite upset if she brought him home but how could she just leave him here? “Does that sound good? It’s not much but it’s better than this, what do you say?” She asked and the dog held up his paw for her to shake. Eve took it, shook it, and said, “Deal. Come on, let’s go home.”
Happily the dog that she would name Hades trotted along at her side. She was heading straight home when she realized there was a small problem; he would need food. Since she was unable to eat but only to drink she had none to offer him. “We have to take a small detour, sorry, boy.” The dog didn’t seem to mind he just followed along until Eve found herself in a building she hardly ever visited, a pet store. She didn’t know what kind of kibble the dog would like or even which was best for him so she grabbed three different bags, a box of dog treats, a collar, and a rawhide bone. Walking out with a paper bag full of doggie goodies they made their way back in the other direction toward her small apartment as the light began fading from the sky and the wind picked up around them.
Walking up the stoop, Eve looked left, right, and even up and down for any sign that someone was watching before she opened the main door and hurried him up the three flights to her apartment. A hot bath, two bowls each of kibble and water later Hades, with his new red collar, was very adorably snuggling up at her side as she sat watching TV on her second hand couch. Not long after that he let out a big sigh and fell asleep with his head in her lap.
Hades turned out to be a wonderful dog and Eve struggled to understand why anyone would just abandon him when he was so loyal and happy to see them when they came home. He didn’t chew the furniture or the pillows. He didn’t scratch up the door and old wood floor. He didn’t make a mess in the house and, in fact, seemed very content with two daily walks, one in the morning and one after she returned from work. He was happy to chase a ball around the park or the apartment. He was happy to snuggle up. He was happiest when she was teaching him tricks, that he picked up rather quickly, and gobbling down treats for his efforts.
For the next year, Eve kept to herself as always, she was grateful for Hades’ company and the way her life seemed to settle into a peaceful little valley. Every day she walked the five blocks to her job and back every day. She left her little apartment promptly at 8am and returned just after 8pm. In the summer it was a nice evening walk but in the winter when it was cold and dark by 5 it could be quite treacherous.
Since man first walked on the moon tensions grew higher and hotter in the city as they did all around the rest of the country. A woman walking alone after or near dark was an easy target. Although her lovely cinnamon colored skin kept most of them guessing as to whether she was Black or White, it wouldn’t be enough to shield her forever. Especially not when they all found out she wasn’t either of those things. Feeling uncomfortable on her walks home she asked Mr. Smithers, the man who was in charge of the soup kitchen if she could bring Hades with her. She promised he was a good dog and he wouldn’t cause any trouble. Mr. Smithers appeared to empathize with her predicament but in the end he said no, the City Health Codes prevented having a dog on the premises.
Every day there were outbreaks of violence and every day the line for food grew longer. It grew to the point the soup kitchen had problems keeping up with the demand. As a result the quality of the food slipped so they could purchase more. As a result the people coming through the line also grew surly and many didn’t hesitate to voice their displeasure with the food and The Man.
With daylight growing scarcer Eve grew a little more apprehensive every darkening night on her way home. Clutching a thrift store coat and her matching thrift store handbag a little closer she kept her head down as cries and shouts echoed from just a few blocks away. Small pops of gunfire erupted in that direction then the piercing sound of sirens split the dusk as their flashing lights went by.
Telling herself that soon she would be home with Hades and all would be well, Eve kept her head down and her mouth shut as she put one foot a bit unsteadily in front of the other. Just three more blocks and she’d be home. She stopped at the next corner, picked her head up to look both ways, and took in the sight of jack-o-lanterns lining stoops and lighting up windows with their strange happy orange faces. For a moment she couldn’t tell if they were helping light her way home or mocking her with their toothless grins.
Just as she reached the other side of the unusually quiet street a storm rolled in overhead. The wind, which had been merely a light breeze, started to blow a gale. It seemed awfully sudden and terribly dark. She pulled the coat tighter and began to forge onward. She passed Snider’s Tailor Shop, and Freeman’s Candy Shop, then she passed the alley between that and O’Leary’s Market. The alley always stunk of garbage and lately of piss and feces. She held one hand under her nose trying to avoid the stench but it did no good.
Just two blocks now, if she hurried she could make it before the sky opened up and the rain poured down. Thunder boomed echoing down the empty street, sending a shiver through her frame, and making her jump. As the lightning flashed and she turned around, she saw him plain as day, a man, a very angry man, with a gold blade in his hand had emerged from the alley and was merely yards behind her.
Eve let out a scream, the lightning flashed again to show her his gnarled face. Her heart stopped, the air froze in her chest, and the chaos of utter fear shot through her. She knew him, she knew that blade, but her mind, in that moment, pushed it away, buried it down deep where it all belonged. She started to run and tripped over her own feet she went crashing to the cement sidewalk as he continued his purposeful stroll toward her. “No,” she gasped and held up an arm to shield her face from the coming strike of the blade.
“Been a long time,” he muttered through gritted teeth as he came to stand over her. Looking down at the quaking woman the tightly set jaw turned into a gleaming smile. Before he could finish what he wanted to say let alone the job a black dog came from out of nowhere. It leapt at him with its teeth snapping and landed full force on his rather brawny upper torso knocking him back several steps and away from his long awaited target.
Hades got his teeth around the intruder’s throat and took a good chunk from it before he retreated to his mistress’s side with Nephilim blood dripping from his jaws.
Holding one hand to his temporarily bleeding throat and the other gripping the hilt of the blade with renewed intent, he took two steps towards her again but was stopped when the other end of the street darkened to pitch. It roared with a whirlwind that threw debris everywhere breaking the windows of the storefronts and apartments around it.
Not knowing where Hades had come from or how he knew she was in trouble, Eve grabbed him by the scruff of his fury neck as she scrambled to her feet. Getting up to her knees she saw the sight that froze her attacker in place and like him knew it for what it was and yet for it could not be.
Just the whirlwind opened up to reveal the figure of a man standing deep within it, the attacker railed, “Fuck you!”
Although she couldn’t actually see, she felt that man in the middle of the whirlwind smile just before he held out his hand releasing a bolt of energy so strong the attacker not only flew backwards high off his feet but he disappeared altogether. Looking back to the other end of the street she saw the whirlwind die down, the man within it raised a hand as if in greeting before he too disappeared and the street was quiet once more.
Hades stood still and strong as Eve used him for leverage to haul herself the rest of the way to her feet only to find the bones in her legs had been replaced with warm rubber. They faltered and threatened to give way. Hades moved his warm body in front of her to help her stay upright.
Breathless she looked down at the dog and asked, “Where did you come from, huh? How did you get out?”
Hades just sat there at her feet. When she didn’t move right away he gave her a nudge in the direction of home. People were starting to come out of the shelter of their homes and store fronts to inspect the damage and hopefully figure out where such a storm had come from. Mostly to ensure their neighbors had experienced it too and they were not delusional.
With darting eyes she took in the sight of opening doors and people coming to broken windows to gaze at her. “That was…it was….something, wasn’t it?” She stammered to no one and everyone at the same time. “Never saw anything like it.”
Her words were met with the mutters of agreement of those still looking around at the damage. Looking down at the dog with suspicion she simply began making her way home again. No one stopped her. No one said anything at all.
Upon reaching the stoop of her building she found the door shut and locked. Upon reaching the door of her apartment she found the same thing. All of her windows were intact. There was no way Hades got out.
Throwing her handbag onto the dinette table and tossing her coat over one of its chairs she looked down at the dog who was sitting at her feet and appearing to look back with pride. “Who are you?” She demanded. “You are not a dog.”
Hades just sat there. As if he were trying to distract her from her line of questioning he looked over at his empty bowl and raised his paw.
“Don’t give me that!” She huffed with her heart still beating furiously. “You know who that was, don’t you? Who both of them were.” Again, Hades just sat there staring at her. In frustration, Eve stormed over to the cabinet above the sink and took out a full bottle of Jameson. God had cursed her never to eat but she could drink until the cows came home and they had done just that just now. Ripping off the cap she raised the green quart bottle to her lips and took down a ten second swallow. Then she plopped her and her bottle down at the table with a thud before her legs gave out. It had been at least a thousand years since she’d come across a Creature of Magick and Myth. The last was a Nymph named Lenai when she was living on a tiny island in Greece. The last time she saw a Celestial he was throwing her out Eden.
Still, there was no other explanation for how he’d gotten out or how he’d known she was in trouble at all. Growing angrier by the second, Eve took down another ten second swallow as she stared coldly at the dog who had been her loyal and loving companion for the last year. Oh yes, so loyal, as she pet him, and talked to him, told him her troubles and woes. So many times she felt a strange connection to him, as though he were not only listening to her but understanding her as well. That was because, well, he was. “Traitor,” she muttered. One more five second swallow and she swiped the back of her hand over her numbing lips. “Get out,” she hissed at Hades.
The dog’s eyes grew wide as he let out a mournful whimper, and laid down on the old linoleum floor.
In a heated rush, Eve stood up, grabbed the handle to the door of the apartment, opened it, and uttered her demand again, “Get. Out.”
Without warning the knob flew out of her hand and the door slammed shut just before a voice from behind her said, “Is that any way to treat someone who just helped save your life?”
With nothing but rage boiling up within her tipsy frame, Eve wheeled around to face him. She didn’t have to see him before she sneered, “I knew it was you!”
“Yeah, it’s me. Hi ya, Eve.” Standing there in blue jeans and a faded green army jacket with a scraggly graying beard on his oddly handsome face, he looked around before uttering, “Nice place ya got here.”
“You get out too! Both of you out!”
“I got a better idea,” God ventured easily, “why don’t we take that bottle and one or two more you got stashed up there, have a seat on the couch and catch up.”
“Catch up? Catch up?” Eve screamed as she grabbed the bottle, stared at him with her eyes ablaze and drank down a nearly twenty second swallow before pointing at him in accusation. “You? My son was right, fuck you!”
“We just saved you from your son and you’re still going to take Cain’s side?” God chided as he took another bottle from the cabinet and settled himself down at her faded dinette table. “I think thank you would be more appropriate but, hey, whatever works for you, right, Eve? Whatever works for you.” He opened the fresh bottle, raised it to his full bearded lips, but Eve snatched it away before he could get a single drop.
“Thank you, now get the fuck out and take your…dog…with you.”
God snatched the bottle back, “Geez, hospitality in this place is a little lacking.”
“You’re no guest. You’re trespassing.” She reached for the bottle again but he was quicker this time. She watched him take a long drink. Then he let out an equally long stinky blech and smiled. “Oy,” she waved her hand in front of her face, “what the hell do you want? Never mind, I don’t care what you want. Who is that? Really?” She pointed to the dog again.
“Go on,” he said to Hades, “show her.”
With a sigh, in front of her amazed eyes, Hades morphed from a perfectly normal dog into an angel. Not just any angel.
“Gabriel,” Eve snorted and then laughed. “Still doing Daddy’s bidding, I see.”
The handsome angel with the perfect skin and the white wings on his back held out his hands and gently said, “Let’s not fight, Eve, it was a long time ago. Besides, you loved me when I was a dog. We had fun.”
Eve let out another snort and groaned, “Oh Gah—” then she cackled and held out her hands in the direction of the Divine being sitting at her table, “Pardon me, I supposed I should say, Oh, you!” Taking another drink she looked around through eyes growing hazy with alcohol, “This is a fucking nightmare.” One more swallow and the bottle was nearing empty already with it fire embedded on her tongue, Eve let it fly. “What do you want? Are you bored? You want to torture me some more? You want me to fall at your feet? You want me to beg your forgiveness? You damn sure didn’t come here just to save my life you selfish prick…did you…My Lord?”
God didn’t come here thinking the task in front of him was going to be easy and he had expected a good deal of venom. He was good at escalating situations such as this but woefully lacked in the de-escalation department but knew he had to give it the best possible shot. “I can see, you’re angry,” he held out his hands in a gesture of surrender before he too took another long drink from his bottle. “I feel ya there, I really do, we got issues, I know. Things we need to work out…”
“Things. We. Need. To. Work. Out?” Eve interrupted slowly. Feeling as though she had finally gone completely insane she let it take her away as she sat down at the table opposite him. “Do tell, Dear God, do tell.”
“Ok, first, no more of that My Lord, My God, Dear God stuff. That’s ancient history.”
“It’s what?” Eve asked as she started to giggle without any effort.
“Just call me Chuck,” he said with an easy grin and roll of his shining hazel eyes. “Ok, can you do that?”
“Please, none that My Lord stuff,” he said with an easy grin and roll of his eyes, “Just call me Chuck.”
“Call you…what? Chuck? What…”
“Yeah, Chuck. What’s wrong with Chuck, I like it, it’s a lot less formal.”
Leaning across the table she stared him right in the eyes, “I’m going to chuck you alright, Chuck. Right on your pompous ass. I don’t know which one of is more insane at this moment, you or me.”
“One of the things I always loved and hate about you, Eve; no fear. Not of me or of anything really, well, you know, except for Cain.” Chuck stopped for a moment, took another drink, and then let out a sigh. “It’s not the first time he tried to kill you but it is the first time he had a chance of succeeding.” Chuck explained quietly as he got to the reason for his unexpected intrusion into her life. “You saw the blade. You know who it belonged to.”
“I did. I do.” She agreed but then fell silent as she looked from Chuck to Gabriel, “Are you just going to stand there or are you going to sit down and have a damn drink?”
It would be rude to refuse her invitation so Gabriel grabbed his own bottle from the cabinet before he sat his long lean body in an empty chair. “Better?” He asked as he took a sip, nearly choked, and then capped the bottle with a grimace.
Eve laughed, “Yeah, sure. So much better.” She finished the last of the amber liquid in the quart bottle in what was undoubtedly a personal best. She grabbed the one in front of Gabriel as she glared at them both, “What the hell do you want…Chuck?”
Chuck nodded and took another drink, “Down to business, no small talk, I like it. I am here for a reason, Eve.” Then he uttered the words that would ring her head for the rest of her life; “I need your help.”
“My what?” She stammered.
“Help,” Chuck huffed with a bit of anger knowing she only wanted him to repeat his plea and she’d heard perfectly fine the first time. “I need you to go back to The Garden. Can you do that for me?”
Even if the alcohol hadn’t already been swimming around in her, Eve would have been dumbstruck by the request. “After all you’ve done to me, why would I do anything for you?” She gave him a cold grin. “You can’t possibly think that saving my life just now makes up for it all.” A nasty thought struck her and she cackled for a bit before getting herself under control, “Did you set this up with him? With Cain? Just for show?”
“No, I did not,” Chuck stated immediately and flatly. “I knew he was coming, obviously, but I didn’t tell him where you are. He found you on his own. I knew he was on your trail so…”
“He sent me,” Gabriel interrupted. Watching over her hadn’t been his only assignment but it was the only one she needed to know about in this moment.
Eve nodded slowly, “Yep, you still can’t touch him or me, can you, Chuck?” The nod turned into a shake, “You’re an idiot, did you know that?”
“I gotta admit, most people don’t say that to me,” Chuck returned through tight teeth.
Eve reminded him of one simple undeniable fact, “I am not most people.”
“Yeah, gotta agree there, you certainly are not most people.” Chuck said as he eased back in the chair again. If he could just make her do what he wanted everything would be so much easier but he couldn’t, she was beyond his reach and that was his fault. Therefore, she wasn’t exactly wrong it had been the shortsighted move of an idiot. “You can’t be happy here,” he led softly, “I know you can’t. Look at this place. Look at your life. I can’t change it but I can fix it if you go back to Eden.”
“Liar,” Eve accused.
Chuck started turning red and his jaw got tight. Gabriel laid his hand over his father’s to silence him so he could speak in his stead. “You’re right, he can’t fix it but Eden can help.” Gabriel assured. “If you go back, the people there will be kind to you because they’re Celestials, they’re not subject to Dad’s curse.”
That got her attention, “People? Who?”
“Oh,” Chuck stammered trying to brighten, “There’s a whole village now. Ares, Demeter, Persephone, Cernunnos, and of course, Gaia’s still there.”
Eve at back at the chair as though she’d suffered a minor blow. All these eons she thought the place empty. Why would Chuck send anyone to live there? Why would he send Gods when he hated them so?
“You’d be in charge,” Gabriel offered, “that’s an absolute, they need someone with experience to, you know, sort of guide them.”
Leaning forward to hang her hand on her head,
Eve sighed as she struggled to understand, “Guide them doing what? What are you talking about?” She looked at Chuck, “If you’re still God, Chuck, and I think you are, why don’t you just fix whatever is wrong with the place? Because if you want me to go back to Eden then something is definitely seriously wrong because you banished me for eternity…remember?”
Chuck made a hard but very truthful confession, “Yeah, it wasn’t my finest moment.”
“There’s an understatement,” Eve huffed and took another drink.
That got his hackles up, “To be fair, Eve, you did go against me. You did eat that apple.”
Eve laughed again, “It was good and juicy too, best apple I ever had, but that’s not why you cursed me and we both know it. So cut through the bullshit and tell me what’s going on.”
The time had come to lay his cards on the table for her to see and so he did even though it was most difficult, “It’s dying, Eve, Eden is dying.” Although he knew he shouldn’t, Chuck tried to reach for her hand to show her his sincerity but she pulled it away. “I need you to go back and be its caretaker again.”
That seemed impossible almost laughable but the desperation in Chuck’s eyes kept the laughter coming to her lips at bay. “I was never its caretaker that was Lucifer’s job.”
Chuck cleared his throat, “Yeah, well, my rebel son is still busy in hell, so I come to you.” He raised his eyes hesitantly to meet her gaze, “A Celestial must sit on the Throne of Hell, Eve, I needed Lucifer to fill that spot. I know you hate me for it but I didn’t have another choice.”
Darkly she whispered those words again, “That’s not why you did it.”
Getting angry again, Chuck muttered, “He taught you that trick, didn’t he? That Soul Stare thing he does.”
“It’s not a trick, Chuck, and no I don’t have that power you’re just easier to read than Dr. Seuss.”
Chuck began to stand up but Gabriel’s hand closed over his again keeping him in his place. “That won’t get us anywhere, Dad. Face it, you got a lot to answer for here, don’t you? So let’s just not smite each other and figure this out.”
Doing his best to quell his Divine Anger because he knew not one single ounce of his Divine Power would get him what he needed in this situation, Chuck drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I know you feel angry with me,” he stammered slowly, “I wasn’t too happy with you either, Eve. I’m still not. I need your help and you need to give it or this world is going to die. I know you don’t want that. If I don’t know anything else about you, I know you love your children.”
That was true, she loved her children and she had no wish to see this world come to its end so soon. Still, given everything that had transpired, it wouldn’t be too much to ask for something for herself, would it? “If you want me to go back to The Garden then lift your curse upon me. Let me eat. Let me sleep. For crying out loud, let me die.”
“Yep, see that last one there, that’s out of the question. I need you in The Garden and I need you there for Eternity.” He held up his hands to silence her protest before they could begin. “But, once you’re in The Garden again, I can guarantee that you won’t feel hungry anymore. Like Gabriel said, the people won’t be mean to you. You won’t be poor because there’s no money, you’ll have everything you need. How’s that? Does that work for you?”
“Not really, Chuck.” Eve returned snottily. “I want to eat the food I’m forced to prepared for others every single day. I want to sleep and dream and….”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you-you-you. I get it, you’re still selfish.”
“Sel-sel-selfish?” Eve stammered and then knocked back from the bottle again. “All I did was fall in love with your son! That’s my huge sin, Chuck! That’s it. Love.”
“I didn’t come here to rehash the past!” Chuck shouted. “You disobeyed me, both of you!” The apartment building began to slightly shake as his anger grew.
Eve just sat there and smirked without fear, “Go on, smit me again. I dare you. Now that you need me.”
“What’s so important out here?” Chuck railed. “Nothing that I can see. You don’t have a man or a woman, whatever, I don’t judge there. You certainly don’t have any children, not even a best friend. That hovel you live in, man, is this place a dump or what? You’re barely scraping by here.”
“You did that to me. All of it. I’m poor because you cursed me to be poor. I’m hungry because you cursed me to be hungry. I am alone because you cursed me to be ALONE!” She couldn’t hold back any longer and before she knew it Eve was flying across the table at him ready to grab him by his throat and choke that smug expression off his divinely ordinary but handsome face. Just before she reached him, he disappeared. Eve crashed to the ground with half of her body on the table and her arms clutching the air where he had just been.
“Now, I see you’ve still got that fiery temper of yours so you need to just calm down.” Chuck said with a grin from the other side of the room. “Take a breath and you’ll see that I’m trying to help all of us here, especially you. If you go back to The Garden, it’ll almost be like you’re not cursed at all. It’s better than anything you’ve got here or maybe you enjoy being hungry, alone, and having your oldest son pop up every now and then to try to kill you. I know tonight wasn’t the first time, Eve.”
In fact, it was far from the first time. Eve spent a good deal of her extra-long life running from her murderous son who had become hell-bent on killing her. A Herculean task to be sure but given Cain was equally cursed and equally immortal and unequally indestructible, he had the best shot of anyone on the planet of achieving that goal especially now that he’d finally obtained the one weapon that was sure to do the trick; Lucifer’s Sun Sword.
When Chuck realized his sinister Grandson was in possession of it, he’d sent Gabriel here in the guise of Hades the happy black lab to keep watch over Eve. Gabriel reported back to his Father nearly every day. He told Chuck of how sad Eve seemed to be and how lonely. He told of graying hair and wrinkling skin. Gabriel told of how tired she always was, so tired, never did she sleep because of curse. Her weariness had grown to a point that while, as Hades, he laid in bed with her late at night and she fell into what could only be described as some sort of self-induced hypnotic state, he quietly and very gently pushed some of his Grace into her.
While, at first, Chuck didn’t give a wit about how sad or lonely she was the rest concerned him greatly. When he arrived and saw those undeniable signs of aging for himself, the deep wrinkles around her eyes and mouth and the wide streaks of whitening silver in her raven hair, he knew the trouble brewing was more serious than he had ever imagined. He had to get her back to Eden. He simply could not let her die, not ever. The consequences would be disastrous. “You’ll be safe from him there, don’t you see that? He won’t be able to find you so he won’t be able to try to murder you.”
“What if I want to die?” She whispered softly.
“What if I gave you the chance to live a real life?” Chuck countered in the same soft tone. “One where you’re not scared, you’re not alone, and the people around you are good to you instead of spitting on you?” Squatting on his knees next to her at the table Chuck looked deep into those distant eyes and made an admission he never thought he would, “I was wrong, Eve, I was too harsh on you. I was angry. I was impulsive and…and…” he nearly choked on the words but he finally got them out, “I’m sorry.”
Eve let out a little drunken snort as her blurring eyes focused on him and her ears drank in the sweet words but her mouth got in the way, “You should be.” She snorted. Still, he was right and none of that was a lot of fun and, if she were being honest with herself, she missed Eden and she would very much like to go back. To finally go home but agreeing to anything he wanted, after all he’d done and put her through for several millennia, was so damn difficult. “Not sorry enough to lift the curse though, right?”
As if he read her mind, Gabriel leaned over and whispered, “Don’t let your pride get in the way, not here, not now.”
The archangels words were override by his Father’s railing, “Jesus Christ, Eve!” At that it seemed the entire world went silent for a moment as all mouths in the room dropped open and then just stared at each other for a long moment before Chuck did his best to recover from his own blasphemy. “Don’t you think I would if I could?”
“No,” she answered swiftly and calmly, “if it suited you, no, I don’t believe you would.”
With exasperation over taking his anger, Chuck held up his hand and nodded even as his gut churned, “Fine, that’s fair, I guess. You’re probably right. I wouldn’t. But I am telling you that I can’t. Do you understand? I cannot lift this curse. There’s just no way for me to do it.”
Those wise words uttered by Gabriel a few moments ago rolled around in her head for a moment as she righted herself to sit again and gauged Chuck only to surprisingly find that she believed him. There were things he was holding back and she thought she knew at least one of them. “So, I take it you need me to say yes to this scheme of yours because you can’t just put me back there, not after you banished me. Is that it?”
“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.” Chuck agreed with a huff. It wasn’t anywhere near all of it but it was close enough for now.
“Is the entire world really at stake or is this just one of your games?”
Feeling narrowed into a corner, something he never liked, but also knowing his situation was dire and there was little he could do about it without her, Chuck held up his right hand as he said, “I swear to…well….me. It’s the truth.” It wasn’t all of it, of course, but the pitch about keeping her safe and returning some level of happiness and ease to her life by taking her back to Eden was absolutely the truth. In fact, it was the only pitch he intended to give her when he arrived but sitting here, talking with her, looking deep into those dark eyes, he’d found himself saying much more than he intended knowing nothing less would do.
Gabriel nodded, “It is, Eve, I know you have no reason to believe either of us, but it is the truth.”
“Sit, Chuck,” she motioned to the overturned chair he’d been sitting in as she poured another drink. “Drop this façade of yours and tell me exactly what is going on and exactly what you think I can do about it.”
Chuck did as she asked, for a short time, the two old enemies spoke earnestly as though they were old friends. He told her that the world was on the fast track to dying and, after trying everything he could possibly think of, he was at the end of his options. He wanted Eve to return because she was one of the last original inhabitants of the place. She knew it better than anyone, save Lucifer himself.
Eve listened to pitch and most of it rang true, the mortals had begun killing the planet at a rate surely to soon equal the one in which they killed each other. So the obvious question remained and she voiced it, “Why don’t you just correct their course? The mortals. The humans. Why don’t you just do what you do and make them do what you want?” Once in the air the question lingered heavy and the answer emerged in his sad hazel eyes. “You can’t, can you? They’ve grown beyond your control, haven’t they?”
“Yeah,” chuck admitted looking down at his hands, “Short of another Ice Age or meteor, I can’t control them anymore.”
“Too many have stopped believing in you,” she said softly. “Too many hypocrites in your churches, is that it? There are too many people who revile you so fiercely for all that you did and all the atrocities that were committed in your name?” She leaned across the table as she gazed at his haggard face, one that didn’t unsettle her as much as it possibly should have, “You’re dying, just like me, you’re dying and your power is dying with you, isn’t it, Chuck?” Those two things definitely had something to do with what was going on in Eden but he was withholding that information and she wasn’t apt to push him on it just now.
“Who said you’re dying?” Chuck tried to laugh it off. “Me? No, of course not, I’m eternal.”
“Yeah, right,” Eve whispered with a grin as she took down another swallow. “Everything that is born dies one day.”
It was Chuck’s turn to give an honest laugh at her words, “I hate to remind you but neither of us was actually born, remember? I created you.”
“Where are you Brothers? Your Sisters?”
Chuck’s lips slammed shut and would not unlock so Gabriel spoke for him, “Dead, Eve, they’re dead.”
“You killed them or did he?” She asked sweetly then the answer flashed in Chuck’s eyes, “Ah, it was Michael, I see. Daddy’s perfect little warrior, it figures, you’d never get your own hands dirty with something as vile as parricide.” Chuck always hated his siblings except for Gaia. He’d gone to great lengths wiping out their followers and even trying to erase them from history altogether. The best he managed was to relegate them to Myth and Legend things, concepts, possibly even greater than Gods. Their stories lived on and so did some of their worshippers. “So you brought their descendants to Eden, because you don’t have any, well not anymore, you did have the one, but you got him killed, didn’t you? When Jesus’ name started to become synonymous with your own, you had him killed, martyred on a cross for all of the world to see.”
“Watch it, Eve,” Chuck threatened.
“Even though he was touting your glory from the highest mountain tops, you just couldn’t share the stage,” she kept right on going, “That’s why he died and it’s why you never had another child, a real child, of your own. The Bible doesn’t tell people that or much of anything that’s true about you.”
“Yeah, well, you know, on the third day I…”
“Bullshit!” She laughed. “You didn’t bring him back, Jesus is just as dead today as the day they peeled his bloody body off that cross. Not even you can raise the dead and you wouldn’t if you could. He didn’t die for their sins he died for your pride. You and your ‘I am the one true God’ crap. When that didn’t work, when after Jesus suffered and died on the cross, how did you feel?” She said with a laugh. “Knowing the only thing you’d accomplished was to make his name equal to yours? I bet that really pissed you off, didn’t it? Then you what? You rounded up the descendants of your siblings, your own nieces and nephews, and you what? You put them in Eden in hopes that they would…quietly disappear? Live out their lives, which you consider unimportant, far away from the mortals you crave to lord over just so you could be the Only One. The, One True God,” she snorted. “Or did you really think they could do some good there? I’d bet on the first, if I were a betting woman, that is.”
“That’s it,” Chuck roared as spit flew from his tight lips, “You should be cowering before me, trembling in fear, groveling at my feet begging my forgiveness! I will not be interrogated by a wicked tongued harlot!”
“If you want my help you will,” she returned without flinching. “Besides, what are you going to do? Kill me?” She chirped with a wide grin as she rested her chin on her hand. “Really?”
Sternly Chuck warned, “I’m still pretty strong, Eve.”
“Not strong enough,” she said with a sad smile never believing she’d see this day.
“Fine, just frickin’ fine, Eve, I can see how it’s going to be with us but, look, don’t do it for me,” Chuck said in a heated rush as he played his one and only trump card, “Do it for Seth. You don’t want to see him die do you?”
Eve’s eyes grew wide as her mouth dropped open and all sassiness disappeared for a long moment. “He’s alive? You let him live? I don’t believe you.”
Chuck stood as straight and tall as his 5’6 frame would allow and proudly announced, “He’s alive, he’s well, he’s happy as all get out and he’s on his…what…hundred and fiftieth family?” He chuckled. “He just had a brand new baby boy last year.” Seeing he was finally getting through to her, Chuck pressed on. “You don’t want anything to happen to your tiny innocent grandchildren, do you? No matter how pissed off at me, and I’m not saying you’re not entitled to your anger, but I know you don’t want that.”
No, of course she didn’t want that. The news that after all these millennia Seth was still kicking around this world was the most glorious music to her ears. In fact, it was downright delicious as realization dawned. “You didn’t have another choice, did you? I can’t get close to a man, not willingly anyway. Cain, well, such things never interested him he’s been set on destruction since he killed Able. Seth is still out there creating Nephilims. If I were you I wouldn’t tell the Catholic Church. They frown on things like that.”
Why were she and her sharp tongue always right? Chuck did not recall creating her that way. There she was smiling that devilish grin at him as she exposed his truth. Seth was his last option to keep his version of humanity going since Eve didn’t bare any daughters…in fact all three of her sons were Lucifer’s sons as Adam just never got that part right no matter how many times he bent her over and took what he wanted.
Once they were all thrown out of Eden, after Cain killed Able, Chuck had no other choice but send to Seth to a place on the planet that was already thriving with humanity so he could breed.
“I was your last shot, wasn’t I?” Eve asked quietly as she deeply probed those stark hazel eyes with her dark ones, “I don’t know why but I was.”
“Lucifer tell you that?”
“No,” she said easily, “I can see it in your eyes. I can see everything in your eyes. Everything, Dr. Seuss.”
How did she do that? How did she look in his head and pull out his deepest darkest secrets? Chuck really wanted to know. It was impossible that Lucifer had shared that power with her yet he’d never felt anything like her stare except for that of his rebellious son. “I hate you,” Chuck said through gritted teeth.
With a grin, Eve snapped her fingers and pointed in his direction with a wide grin and a knowing nod, “There we go, there’s the Chuck I remember,” Eve picked up the bottle, raised it in his direction and cheerily, “Back at’cha, boy,” then she took another drink and offered the bottle in his direction.
Chuck looked to Gabriel for support only to see his glorious son was just as exasperated as he was. His Divine Rage was not going to get him anywhere and, truth be told, he was getting so weak that just whipping up that whirlwind an hour ago took a great deal out of him. Grabbing the bottle from her hand he took down a long swallowed followed by a deep breath which he slowly exhaled before he tried again to reason with her, “The point is, he’s alive and so is his family.”
Eve glanced to Gabriel who nodded and affirmed that Chuck was telling the truth. “He’s living in Australia on a sheep ranch,” Gabriel offered. “He’s happy, Eve, truly, he is.”
A dark thought struck her as she grabbed for Gabriel’s hand, “Does Cain know his brother’s alive?”
“I don’t think so,” Gabriel answered honestly. “If he does, he doesn’t seem to care.”
Grandchildren, great grandchildren, oh she’d missed out on so much! All because of that bastard standing in front of her begging, in his own way, for her help. She was so angry she could barely see straight. Yet, at the same time, she couldn’t help it she felt a deep streak of honest pity for Good Ol’ Chuck who’d once been so strong and fearsome. But no longer. Something terrible was going on here and he really did need her help. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have saved her from Cain tonight nor would he be taking the harsh tablespoon of truth she was dishing out at him. He would have leveled the building by now if he didn’t need her. That, oh that, was sweeter than honey and more frightening than Cain looming over her with Lucifer’s sword. Still, it was the image of a small one year-old child, a boy, somewhere in Australia, toddling around on a sheep farm, a child she would never meet or hold, a child who would never know her yet she loved with all her heart anyway that compelled her say, “Sit down, Chuck, have another drink, let’s discuss terms for my homecoming.”
Wanting to rail again but feeling a sudden turn of events in his favor so much so that what he wanted, what he needed, to happen was dancing just within his grasp, Chuck sat down and took another drink. “What terms? I already told you I can’t lift the curse, what else do you want?”
“I want to bring my things with me, of course.” She looked over at Gabriel and sneered, “And a dog, a real dog.”
“Dog? Things?” Chuck asked with apprehension even as his face brightened. “Ok, ok, a dog I can do.” Even though no such creature had ever actually lived in Eden as they were creations of his brother, Bor, he thought a dog would probably do her good and she sure did seem to like having Hades around. “What kind of things?” Eden, although dying, was still a pure place. It held nothing of the outside world, nothing that could not be hewn, sawed, sewn, or reaped, from its own being.
“Yes, I don’t have much but I do have some small things and you are going to let me take them with me and you are going to meet my meager demands regarding them.”
“Demands?” Chuck was quickly becoming thoroughly confused so he looked around the ratted apartment and at the equally ratted couch, coffee table, the second hand… “Oh, no, no way.” He sliced the flat of his hand in the air as he took in the TV. “That thing is not coming to Eden.”
“Yes, it is,” Eve asserted, “so is the radio and you will make sure both them work forever and pull in as many channels as godly possible. I may no longer be part of this world once I return but I still want to keep an eye on it.” She hitched her thumb toward the small black and white TV, “Maybe you should have done the same.”
Chuck scratched the scruff of graying beard on his face as he stood up slowly. He didn’t like it. He didn’t agree with having technology in Eden. Yet, he understood her desire for it. “Alright, you win, you can take that anything else you want.” He held out his hand to shake and seal the deal.
Eve put hers out as well but before clasping she added, “The dog doesn’t die and it doesn’t get sick or anything like that, understand? I know you and your tricks.”
“You know, you could bring two, like Noah, have puppies,” Chuck smiled, “Puppies are cute, right? Everybody loves puppies.” He said it off the cuff and simply because he thought it might make her laugh and lighten the moment a bit.
Eve slapped her hand into his palm, grasped it firmly and shook, “Deal. Puppies it is.”
“Aww, shit,” Chuck muttered. “Fine. Fine. Get your stuff, let’s go.”
A few hours later, Chuck, Eve and Gabriel appeared outside the veil to The Garden of Eden. Eve with her TV, radio, two puppies, and two suitcases holding all of her earthly, and unearthly, belongings was greeted warmly by the Gods calling Eden home.
Everything was exactly as Chuck stated from then on out. Her life changed completely, she was no longer afraid, no longer alone, even though she still could not eat or sleep, she no longer felt as though she were on the verge of utter starvation every minute or every hour. That was a very nice change.
It wasn’t long after she moved into her new cozy cottage with her two puppies, Zeus and Hera, when Ares the God of War started adorably courting the Mother of Humanity. That was a completely new experience for Eve, no one had ever asked her for a date or to spend time with them and just walk around a garden looking at the flowers. But Ares did. He was tall and strong, very handsome and desirable. Unlike the other men she’d known over the eons, Ares never raised his voice to her or told her she was worthless. All he wanted to do was raise her up and be near her. For the first time since she was parted from Lucifer, Eve felt love touch her heart. She finally knew Hope and Happiness.