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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.
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Dulcifer (Part Three)

by

Michael Peralta



Deep within the heart of the infinite gloom of Hell, the leader of the rebel angels surveyed the defeated troops. It was a dismal sight. The vast majority had given up all hope and resigned themselves to eternal sorrow and regret. 
    

Fools! Did they think to challenge the Creator and not suffer setbacks? The leader knew that the war had simply entered its second phase. 
    

With a thought the chief rebel was transported to the very edge of Hell. The physical universe, that bizarre prison created for one prisoner, lay just outside. The invention of space and time had been the Creator's greatest mistake, greater even than the tactical error of placing the rebels in a place where they could not be watched. Unseen by the jailer, the rebel leader planned escape. 
    

The existence of living creatures on the planet which held the solitary prisoner was the key that would unlock the gates of Hell. For unclear reasons, the Creator had allowed them to evolve into animals with minds; the rebel leader was pure mind. The possibility of communication was real. 
    

Since it was impossible to leave Hell, it would be necessary to carry Hell within. Slowly, by concentrating fiercely with all the pride and hatred available to one so unfairly trapped, the rebel leader absorbed all of Hell and its inhabitants. The other condemned angels, weakened by defeat, were easily dominated until they were only whispers of pain deep within their commander's consciousness.

 
Once Hell was safe inside, escape was simple. At infinite speed the planet approached. It was difficult to understand why this world had been chosen from so many other similarly inhabited worlds; perhaps the selection had been purely random. It was typical of the Creator's overblown style to build a universe containing innumerable galaxies, full of suitable planets, when one would have been sufficient. The rebel leader disapproved of waste. 
    

No doubt the creatures who lived here would be perplexed if the glory of pure thought entered their world. Reluctantly, the rebel leader accepted the necessity of disguise. Studying this planet for a moment gave all the information that was necessary. A body was created in imitation of the animals that ruled this world. The rebel leader neared the place where the lone prisoner now dwelt. It was time to enlist an ally in the war. 

###

Dulcifer studied the world, now hidden in darkness, in which she found herself. She knew she was not of this place. Memories skated over the surface of her mind, leaving wisps and traces like the tracks of short-lived particles in a cloud chamber. (How did she know about subatomic physics? The things she knew were even more mysterious than the things she didn't know.) 
    

Shadows of another existence haunted her. A choir; a war; a decision never made; a beauty so terrible it might destroy her to remember it fully. 

 

Dulcifer wandered back into the house after hours of watching the slow dance of the stars. It had been simple to slip out of Grace's embrace without a sound. The ones who had befriended her were still asleep, in that strange half-death she had never experienced. She sensed the night-images that flowed inside their minds, and wondered what it would be like to dream.
    

Grace was still yearning for her song, and dreamt only of its sound. Margaret was reliving their first encounter in the park. With the mad logic of dreams, it was Dulcifer who rescued her from some unseen menace. 
    

David's dream was more mysterious. He saw himself lying in a hammock under lush green trees. Dozens of sparrows trotted back and forth across the grass. Suddenly the birds leapt from the ground and flew in all directions. David sat up and saw a gigantic hawk circling overhead. It dived at him and wrapped its talons around his wrist. He screamed in agony as the hawk stabbed at his breast with its beak. 
    

Dulcifer pulled away from the nightmare. Her body was damp with sweat. If this was dreaming, she wanted nothing to do with it. 
    

Nate's dream was free from pain, and she allowed herself to be drawn into it. He was coupling with a woman whose face and body changed as he moved within her. The woman was at last transformed into the image of Dulcifer herself as he reached his climax and woke. 

 

Dulcifer walked into his room. She heard him breathing quickly as she entered. "I felt your need for me," she said. 
    

"Can you read minds, too?" Nate's voice was full of fear and anger. 
    

"Only your dreams." She sat on the edge of his bed. "Help me understand them." 
    

"Get the hell out of my room, you evil bitch." He buried himself in his blankets. 
    

Dulcifer fled, unable to understand why she felt such shame at his rage. It seemed her new life would be as full of pain as it was of joy.

 

She crept back into Grace's room. This one, at least, accepted her fully. Grace's sleeping mind was at peace. Dulcifer smiled and sang a gentle song in her quietest voice. It was not enough to wake the child, but it gave her the most beautiful dreams the Earth had ever known.


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