What ugly "beauty" is. All earthly beauty is such. Ugly. If she could have torn up her past of ugly art, she would have gladly done so. For, how could she have committed all that?
It was after she had been given that first room, first floor, to kill. Merely three months in, she realized what she had been doing was not beauty. It was in fact rather disgusting.
Gather not your earthly riches, but heavenly ones.
The final image… what was it again?
This won't do. She, an angel, losing sight of the end? That's blasphemous. But it had happened. Her vision was obscured, and so she went mad.
Father Gray had her admitted.
It was in that small padded room that she realized what the priest had truly meant. The beauty she sought could not be achieved through such material, beastly means. The end required something not of this world to make it truly elevated to that of the heavens, comparable to the miracles of god. Even his retribution could make something beautiful of someone as ugly as a traitor.
The children who locked her in the shed, so-called friends, so-called traitors... The image of their frosty demise did not please her. It could not compare.
The image of justice was a cell. Kindness was a coffin. Curiosity a needle. For her, the image of beauty, she would have to do no less than rip the wings of off angels and tack them up in the beautiful display of blood every graced to the earth. The image repeated in many ways. An angel, frozen into a solid statue in ice. An angel, blue to the face, floating in formaldehyde. An angel, lying on the cold floor, with wings of blood spreading out beneath in a pose of serenity. The angel Lucifer, the traitor... frozen by his own breath... in the ninth circle of Hell.
She was... becoming...
It was her.
Kirsten draws a shaky breath, seeing the faint steam puff out of her parted lips. It hurt. The shot went clean through her. It was cold. She could feel it. But it was warm on her back. It spread along slowly with a slight sickly feeling. Her hand with the gun twitched, but it could no longer pull the trigger. The bright, blinding ceiling was all she saw, until that witch steps into view, looking down at her.
The two were in mutual silence. She had wounded the witch. But not enough. Her bullet merely glanced off the side of her head, leaving a trickle of blood.
Ah... I must look... beautiful... heavenly...
Cold… beautiful… this will… last forever…
Rachel watched those unchanging dull eyes as the life faded from the body she shot through. She then took the gun from Kirsten and ran to the tank where Zack was lying motionless at the bottom. Not even a twitch. Aiming the muzzle at a corner of the tank glass, she fires. Glass on the edges was usually a bit weaker.
Sure enough, a crack forms and begins spiderwebbing outward. Rachel darts back as the water goes from a trickle to a stream. Once a few feet away, she tosses the empty gun at the tank with all her might. There is a louder, dull crack following the smack of the gun chipping the glass, before it bursts. A flood of water spills out of the frame with broken glass. It fills the nearby floor in seconds before draining into some ports set into the ground nearby. Rachel hurried wades into the broken tank to pull the listless body out, soaking her shoes without a care. He was heavy and sodden with water. She couldn't hoist even an arm over her shoulder in fatigue. But she manages to set him down a distance away from the tank after dragging him, pushing her tired feeling out of her mind.
Panting, she struggles a little to pull the mask off him. After fiddling with the latch, she finally yanks it off to see that bandaged face again. She could see his eyes were half-lidded, but he definitely wasn't conscious. He was cold to the touch, she could feel even through the wet wrappings, and he wasn't breathing. The color on his lips...
"Zack..." She leans down, pinching his nose to breathe into him. Her eyes weren't even focused for movement on his chest, nor her lips on proper lockage. She just had to keep breathing for him...
Zack... Zack... Zack... Zack!
Unresponsive. A nauseating feeling rose in her throat, and not from the feeling of Zack's burned lips. She thumps her fist on his chest with all her might after the fifteenth breath out of frustration.
He was still. Still and cold. She remembered something. A poster. It was in Danny's office. Something about choking victims?
Despite the tired feeling reverberating through her as it was, she positions her hands atop where his diaphragm would roughly be. Just under the lungs... imagine it... like those anatomy pictures that guided her sewing needle...
She began to push with all her might on the other's chest. She wasn't even sure she was pushing very deep into his chest. It was just all she could do. Keep pushing...
"Zack... Zack..." Her voice was pleading, bordering on sobs. The wetness was bringing a slow chill, accompanying her growing dread with every second Zack was still.
God, oh god...
She began to pray, hands clenched together as she continued compressing the man's chest.
There is a gargling sound, then a spasm. The next moment, the man's body curls instinctively as water gushed out of his nose and mouth. He rolls over onto his side, coughing and vomiting water. Relief washes over Rachel and she can only murmur his name.
"Blegh! Uugh... kuh... hackh... ungh..." Zack wheezes weakly, expelling the water from his system as he lay on his side. Rachel gently rubs his back as he began to shiver with the cold from the water and the floor.
"Fuh-fucking... that bitch..." His teeth chattered as color returned to his face. He couldn't move properly still, from the cold, and the drug still in his system.
"We need to get out of here, Zack..." Rachel says quietly, "Can you stand..."
It takes Zack a few minutes to catch his breath. Rachel undoes the straitjacket on him. Realizing he was naked underneath; she leaves it on as cover until they could find his clothes. After he regains his breath, he shakily stands, leaning on her as they moved to exit.
"Ugh... where... is my scythe... and my clothes..."
"We'll find it... come on..."
The two slowly walk out of that cold room filling with the vague smell of chlorine, and the dead floor master laying in her own blood.
"Hm… So, they dispatched of Kirsten…"
Father Abraham Grey folded his arms behind himself quietly, gazing up at the stained glass of his little cathedral on his floor. He looked upon the bluish light streaming down from the artificial setting light behind the glass. Standing between the front row of pews is a figure in surgeon scrubs under a frock coat. He is a young man with a rather familiarly wry expression and loose locks drooping down over his forehead from his swept back black hair. He is his son, Azazel... the angel of sacrificial death.
"I will go next, father. Allow me."
"Kirsten died with no regrets I suppose," Abraham says aloud, as though ignoring his son, "She kept her faith until the very end."
"…Yes. Her face was very serene, and her eyes were as unmoved as ever," Azazel nods, then continues with fervent, respectful pleas despite growing frustration, "They are going towards the upper levels fast, father. My intermediary floor will halt their progress if they take the dummy elevator from Kirsten's floor."
"Yes, they most likely will take that elevator too, in their haste," Abraham continues, unmoving, "Curious. This many brushes with death, and they continue moving. Tenacious, foolish... faithful, devoted."
"... Father," Azazel says again, "Please."
"Thine mother, Gilbert," Abraham now turns to face his son, "I suppose she was the same."
Gil's pale eyes met with his father's wordlessly. There was no explanation, no discussion of the subject. It just was.
"That is old business father. Now excuse me..."
Gil turns from his pastor father to exit now from the religious gathering hall. The smoke of the drugs had cleared out by now. But there was still a soft, pale veil of light particles dancing in the air like a veil of smoke or mist.
"You are similar to Zack, Gil."
That stops the angel in his tracks. Turned away, he hoped the pastor could not tell his face fell by degrees. How he loathed the comparison. Pursing his lips, he clenches his fists at his sides and continues walking out, with a more rushed stride of storming off. The doors to the prayer hall slam shut when he finally leaves.
Father Grey smiles slightly towards the doors, now alone. Even blind, he knew how Gil would react. Drugs were not his only trade.
"Yes, go, my angel... My son," He says, now turning back to the altar, "I see your eyes are of that same gleam … Both you and Zack have some imperfections. I wonder if they will be resolved now."
He shifts aside one of the books on the desk, a bible. Underneath it is a smaller tome, older and with a clear square on the cover. Through the square shows a primly dressed family smiling for the photo: a father and a mother with their young son.
They found Zack's clothes thrown inside an old rusty locker in another room on the floor. It was a small quarter beside the room with the table where Kirsten electrocuted him. There was also an extra clip of bullets, which fit into Rachel's gun.
Zack grumbles as he puts on his clothes, which are slightly damp, "Wish I could kill that bitch a second time... You coulda shot elsewhere!"
Rachel doesn't retort to that silly statement, instead checking over her bruises for anything broken from the scuffle.
"Tsk... We gotta find the next elevator now. The other one musta been broke to dump us here..."
"It was probably set up like that to trap us here," Rachel sighs, "There's another elevator here."
She points back to the quarter with the locker. Inside was a big worn double door with rust stains and an indicator at the top, and lattice bars. A button on the side of the frame meant the elevator was once again a one way. There was no telling where it would take them next really.
"Gosh I'm really hoping this is it...!" Zack growls, "How many of these guys did the old man find...?!"
Rachel silently nodded. Even when she was a floor master, Grey's enigmatic manner resulted in little information about the overall structure. She knew Danny and Eddy vaguely; Danny more so, since he was one of the reasons she was here. But she didn't know about Cathy or Kirsten really, or even Zack before they met on his floor.
"He never told us much... we were all just content... killing..."
"'Cept you, Ray," Zack sneers slightly, now dressed. He slings the scythe over his shoulder, "That's why we're going the way we're. So, don't chicken out now, ya hear?"
"Mm... To the next floor then..."
She presses the button. It takes a couple of moments before the doors rattle and the lattice pulls open with a series of squeaks. Inside is another elevator, even more dingy than the last. It seems a good deal of water leaking from the works here has eroded at it. But it still ran, and there was little other choice really. The duo step in. The doors close, and they feel the contraption begin to lift. But as they were going up, Rachel became distinctly aware of the new feeling this time on the ride.
As they were going up, she couldn't help but feel they were falling down.