rating: +57+x

Alleys are never wide enough, alleys are never wide enough…


never wide enough never wide enough never wide enough





Anthony's lungs are filled with embers. He's been pushing them to the verge of giving out for a solid ten minutes, and if there's still clanging there's still no relief in sight. The alleys in this part of town are enough of a rats maze that this may all be a waste of energy, too. Better to pause and die on the spot instead of going out the hard way.

The blood on his coat sleeve has dried to dull red. He can't give up now. Not after all he's been through.

He swerves around another corner, kicks a trashcan behind him, stumbles over broken broomsticks, picks back up. This has to be heading somewhere. This has to be heading anywhere


Several feet back, metal caves. It's a quick, purposeless crumple, holding all the weight of crumpling a piece of paper out of idle boredom. A shrill drone accompanies it, echoing across the concrete walls. If Anthony listens closely enough he can hear irregularities — pockets of turmoil between the consistent waves of sound. There's drums in there, hammering, scraping, screeching. They collide and when they do gashes are rent through the nighttime air. None of it follows any order he'd hope music would follow; none of it follows any order whatsoever.

He doesn't dare turn to check the aftermath. Whatever was in that trashcan — no, think about something else, think about anything else.


The trinkets in his coat. They're rattling in time to the footfalls, a metronome of screaming adrenaline. Somehow the longer he fixates on the sound the more the clangs seem to fade out. Rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle. Hopefully none of these got stained the same way the coat—



His feet burn with every impact against the ground. His muscles groan. Where there were once embers in his lung is now a full forest fire. Anthony keeps staring for any sign of an exit route, a clear demarcation for salvation, and keeps finding the same gray walls staring back. The approaching clangs resound at even higher pitches. He's on his last legs. If this alley has nothing…

Just one more, just one more.

Anthony strains. Turning another corner,


Mere yards away is a motorcycle — a Vespa, modded by whichever Mekhy owns it to have a full diesel rocket rig crammed into the back.

He can ride this. He can fly this, he can shoot into the sky, jet back to the safety of a spirit-guarded condo halfway across town and put this nightmare behind him. He can finally escape. He can


A crumpled trashcan hits his spine. He's blown forward, face thudding and scratching into the pavement. Around his mouth pools a red, flowing warmth.

Hands press down. Nerves falter. He throws his arms ahead in an attempt to scrabble forward and finds himself clutching at nothing. His breath is staccato. The clanging is silent; everywhere is silent.

A finger presses into his back. The touch is of white noise, of so many distinct pushes that the brain can only register its completeness as numbness. More arrive, running up, running down. He can sense that the music is halted — subdued, just for him.

Full hands wrap around and clasp his torso. Following an orchestrated, deliberate slowness, he is pulled





He stares forwards.


The angel is abstract. It's a raw, formless perfection, the very essence of its own chaos. It is not a sight — it is a sound. It is not a sound — it is the harsh black scars and searing white scratches of harmony turned to discord. Every microphone blown out, every amp broken, every orchestra astray of its conductor; all is the angel itself, itself is all. The chaos swirls inwards like static waterfalls and in the center it twists into ten jagged halos. Jagged, deafening halos.

The 10th Seraph of Noise has caught its prey. It may now do as it pleases.


One arm reaches down, taking Anthony by the throat. The drums return, tightening their grip in rushes of blinding thuds.


His whole body is raised higher, higher. The alley walls slip from sight.


Bleeding noise pulses.


The halos grin.




Twisting over, several hands grab Anthony's coat, reach through his pockets, and tug out the trinkets. They suspend on tendrils of static over him: straight pride pins, rolled-up posters demanding the purity of Three Portlands, swastika-emblazoned patches, pins of double lightning bolts. A blood-stained knife.

There are no eyes in the angel, yet Anthony can tell, tell by instinct alone, that it glares at him.

The trinkets crunch inwards.


Perception cracks. The world explodes into disharmony, halos shredding through his hearing to the tune of stages collapsing endlessly in on themselves and electronics overloading into audible daggers that rip scarlet ribbons through his synapses. His brain is launched into Noise and — right as a final drumbeat hammers — the angel vanishes.

Anthony hits the ground. His body thuds against the pavement again, muscles too empty to move. The debris of his possessions rains down around him. Behind him, where the savior Vespa once rested, is a diesel-drenched ball of scrap. Far, far higher, the night sky is empty.

Laying still on the pavement, Anthony pisses himself.

The wound is still fresh on Isabelle's arm. While the potions accelerated the clotting, trickles of scarlet fail to be restrained, slipping out onto ver skin and curving downwards. They splatter onto the rusted metal of the sink.

The attacker must've cut deeper than ve thought. Still need to wear the bandages, then.

Flicking a hand, a coil of velvet fabric on the sink counter flits towards ver, folding over the wound into a constrictive form. Smaller, inwards protrusions form, lapping at the blood like cats lapping at milk. The press is soft. Bleeding slows.

Isabelle switches off the bathroom lights and steps into the cramped, apartment living space, plunging verself onto the bed. The next apartment over an astral telecaster is broadcasting from the site of the rally, voice managing to filter through the walls. He's talking to one of the UIU agents who broke things up once the scene turned violent — judging by his voice he was the guy who ordered the police golems to round up every counter protester trying to slug a nazi.

Agent says that the UIU will be searching for whoever punched the skinheads first.


Not the time of night to be listening to bootlickers. Ve reaches for the bedside table; maybe there's a set of unused earplugs, or maybe one of the candles can still be used to conjure—


The telecaster is muffled by sound stage failure ambience.



Akita's halos drift in, illuminating the room in the soft glow of a thousand tuning radios.


"No. Maybe. I hope so. Wondering if the guy laced it in something."

Akita frowns. She lowers an octave.




"Oh. Thank you…"


Isabelle scoots verself up, sinking ver head into one of the pillows. Arms of static embrace ver back, halos pulling in. It feels like guitar strings buckling in monochrome. Ve snuggles closer.

"I… I wish we didn't have to do that, you know?"

A speaker fizzles out in understanding.

"I shouldn't need to be fighting these pricks. Should've been punched before they had their rally. Shouldn't have even been allowed to have a rally ever." Ve exhales; slow, tired. "I still wish I could be myself without dealing with this."

The static wraps tight around ver chest. To the degree that an abstract, manifested concept can have a touch, Akita has always felt warm. It's a byproduct of entropy she says, a byproduct of the processes that birth her, venting out alongside her drumbeats and covering the surroundings in its press. For Isabelle, it's a blanket — soft, comforting.




"But that's the thing." Ve curls into a ball, clutching the soreness of her wound. "It's not. They keep getting louder, they keep lashing out more, I don't know how we're supposed to keep up pace, I…"

Ver thoughts drift as a nonexistent hand pats ver head.












"Thank you." Ve smiles.


"I love you too."

Sinking into Akita's disharmonies, body cocooned in harsh noise, Isabelle falls asleep.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License