Lena S.My eyelids buzz with the same warmth in my throat as they lay themselves against a cheek. My face is buried in a neck, lips nibbling on pink skin and teeth poking out along with tongue to graze a forming bruise. I chuckle and gasp, hushed compliments and senseless flirting rolling out of my mouth like a gospel I've known too well, and I am hitched up on a counter full of dust and broken shards of wine glasses. “Leeeena....” He moans the prayer of my name against my skin – plump, bare skin, flushed with my full of alcohol and a regret that will seep in a while later after this deed is done – and I nuzzle my nose into his hair. He smells like sad sweat and offputting cologne, but I squeal in feigned delight over him. Our ministrations are scattered and endless, swinging from focus on one part of flesh to another in an inexperienced confusion, but it remains clear that all and every action is empty. Nothing but want, a transient want, a little snack to get rid of the hunger. It sure is taking long, though. My shirt is halfway parted in its silver buttons and my panties are damp against the smooth icy top counter when my phone lights up in an e-mail alert and I swear I can see the face of my partner grim further in the darkness as he is interrupted in the middle of pushing his little weed out of his boxers. I manage a restrained chuckle as I check the message: my eyes twinkle with warmth at a reminder from a superior I am fond of, but also disappoint more often than is my cup of tea. As it is the case with anything in my life, but for her – a determined leader with the compassion of a war-time nun – even more so, with remorse. I have to wonder why she hasn't fired me yet, but her selfless smile looking down on me from her pedestal gives me the reason again. I shrug my pants back on with sloppy, drunk haste and shuffle myself into my trenchcoat when I feel my now resigned partner grope my bottom. His hand is rough, shaky, but I do not flick his touch away. Instead I step out of the bathroom with a grace known only to me after a few shots of the barkeeper's favorite vodka, leaving my partner in stressed denial in the room. My superior's face flashes a soft picture in my mind when the door chimes in my departure, along with her message that seemed more urgent than necessary. “Does she want to see me that bad?” I mumble, short of breath even shorter as my hands light a perched cigarette between my chapped lips with an expertise known only to old bastards long dead from their prime. Perhaps I am one of them – just wrapped in younger, softer flesh. I snort at the sun setting by the other side of the long, filthy asphalt. The clouds are darkening overhead but not with the weight of the sky's water about to fall – of something else, a crackling light like thunder but without its sharp abruptness. Almost like a spotlight behind the thick mist of cotton clouds, each evening twisting more and more into a deep angry red than its usual heavenly light at noon. Nobody seems to care, though. “Maybe I've been taking that powder too much,” I speak in a loud, singsong voice as though to actually converse with someone, though the streets are deathly empty and I am not drunk enough to avoid feeling lonely. I sigh, snapping my phone out to re-read the message as a short-living comfort. “'Meet me at HQ, got things to show and tell. Hurry.' Hope it's your lingerie collection, madame...” I breathe out in a chuckle as I muster a few steps. Thunder looms in the background and I whip my head back to the skies. The sun is still bright, setting but still high in the scape, and the clouds are far from dark – they are bright, a bright blood red. I bite down on my cigarette, feeling the bitter heat dampen between my teeth. I recognize the three tall bronzed statues perched on top of buildings far apart from each other, dark forms stark and menacing against the hazy backdrop of red. I suck in a breath and shoot my eyes downward - they are here again, and they chill my bones to the core and if I look at them again I'll suffocate from their cold, judging stare. Statues of angels have been leaping around the city, usually seen on rooftops of buildings or in reflections. No one else has seen them but because I'm a crazy alcoholic, I apparently can...but I have never caught them in action. I hope not to, I think, quickening my pace and shoving my shaking hands into my pockets. They watch me, shit- I slow my pace to a comfortable speed but do not lift my head up. I feel an icy wind grace my back and the hem of my thick coat fabric and I nearly slip. Thunder rolls in the sky again and I know this time my world has twisted itself into the funny business I've been haunting myself about for weeks. Despite not having snorted any of that pink shit, I'm hallucinating, hearing imaginary thunder and scaring myself petrified by filthy bronze statues of angels. Only now admitting this insanity in my head has made me realize how absolutely ridiculous I am. In an effort to ditch the humiliation and calm my paranoia, I whip my head up to the sky. Everything is red. Not just the clouds - its colors have stained the sky with blood, and flashes of light pulse behind the thickness of the clouds along with bouts of thunder and hum. But what I fear most is the angel staring down straight at me, eyes literal hollows, arms now curled by its sides, and wings outstretched. I suck in a deep inhale, forgetting about the cigarette that trips over my thick rumple of clothing in its descent to the sidewalk, and close my eyes. Shut. Painfully shut, and soon I'm walking again in a deliberate pace with a heart beating louder than the thunder that keeps rolling and tears as hot as the breath on my neck is cold. I snap my eyes open and turn to my side, to the mirror, to follow a small voice commanding me to 'wake', and see a monstrosity of human limbs and intestines and fabrics of void trailing after me. And it has wings. The same, bronze wings of the angels. My shriek will be the only sound to comfort me as I sprint as fast as my legs can carry me away from the creature, hallucination or not.