KYOKO M: "THE BLACK PARADE"
Jordan Amador. 21. New Yorker. Waitress. Mild alcoholic. Murderer.
Two years ago, Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can see, hear, and talk to ghosts with unfinished business. Her crime came with a hefty price, too. She has two years to help a hundred souls cross over to the afterlife or her soul is bound for hell. Tough break.
As if that weren’t bad enough, two days before her deadline a handsome pain-in-the-ass poltergeist named Michael strolls into her life. His soul is the key to her salvation, but the cost just might be more than she can handle. Solving his death puts her right in the cross-hairs of Belial: a vain, bloodthirsty arch-demon who won’t rest until she’s his slave. Can she rescue Michael and save her own soul, or will they both be dragged down into the clutches of the eternal black parade?
Crazed teeth gnashed inches away from my face. The eyes rolled back until only the whites showed. Spider-like fingers strained for my throat. I screamed and ran towards the bedroom.
I slammed the door shut and dove for the nightstand, hands shaking as I checked the chambers to make sure the gun was loaded. The door flew open with a bang. A second bang followed. Then all was silent.
The phantom was gone, but in its place stood a man in a suit beneath his dark grey duster. His hair was black and his face was growing paler by the second. He reached out his hand. My panicked eyes spotted the scarlet speckled across the palm. The room had gone silent because the gun had deafened me. The barrel was still smoking and now I could see the hole I had put through the man’s chest.
I couldn’t breathe, but somehow I could still talk, and my lips were whispering one word over and over.
“No, no, no, no…”
The man said nothing as he fell to his knees in front of me, his azure eyes locked on mine as if he were trying to tell me something, but the strength was ebbing from him in crimson rivulets. I dropped the gun and fell to my knees as well. My fingertips grazed his face as if I could bring him back to life with one touch, but we both knew it was too late. He laid a rough, scarred hand to the side of my cheek where hot tears had fallen, his lips parting to whisper in a soothing voice.
“Don’t be afraid. They’re going to come for you, but please don’t be afraid.”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, please…” I managed to gasp out in between sobs.
The man merely smiled and closed his eyes. “Don’t be. I’m ready.”
He swayed forward and I caught his heavy body, feeling his blood soak my shirt. He slid down until his face rested in my lap, drawing in a few more shallow breaths before going completely still, empty, lifeless. I sat there with my coated hands stroking his hair, still whispering over and over for him to forgive me.
Golden light poured in from all angles, nearly blinding me, and I could just barely see the outline of a man with wings.
When the light dimmed, a blond man stood in front of me with white-gold wings that stretched nearly from wall to wall of my small bedroom. His tanned body was wrapped in white linen and his skin seemed to possess an ethereal quality, glowing like he had some unique source of inner radiance. Blue eyes like twin suns shone down on me with kindness and empathy. A new feeling of shock and reverence gave me enough strength to speak.
“W-Who are you?”
“My name is Gabriel. I am the archangel of the Lord God.” His voice had an echo to it that seemed to soothe and agitate me at the same time. The angel folded his wings into his back and knelt beside the dead man in my lap. His fingers hovered over the wound the bullet had left through the man’s back.
“As I thought…he is dead.”
More tears poured as I tried to explain. “I-I didn’t know it was him. There was a monster chasing me. I got scared. I’m so sorry.”
Gabriel’s face fell into that of a pitying expression. “You are human. It was only natural for you to be afraid. However, the Father cannot overlook what you have done. The man before you is a Seer—one of the few humans in this world who can see angels, demons, and spirits. He was hunting the demon you saw a moment ago.”
“Please, I don’t want to die. I’ll do anything to make this better,” I whispered, bowing to the angel.
He touched the crown of my head in comfort. “There is something you can do to make amends, my child. You must take his place.”
I looked up in shock. “What?”
“You are a Seer, Jordan. Your abilities had not awakened until just now. That is why the demon was drawn to you. Your time to serve the Lord is now. In order to pay for the crime of taking this man’s life, you must help one hundred wandering souls cross from this world to the next. If you do not finish this task two years from this day, I am afraid your soul shall be sent to hell.”
“H-How? How do I even know which people are spirits?” I stammered in protest.
“The dead have no feet to walk upon because they are no longer tied to the Earth. Your task is to discover how they died and help them fulfill their final wish. Do not fear, for I will teach you how to free their souls. After this is done, the soul will go to the next world and I will write down the name in the Book of Penance.”
He held out his hand and a red leather book materialized, spelling out my name in gold cursive across the front. It managed to be both beautiful and macabre. Gabriel placed it by my side and carefully rolled the man over onto his back. He plucked a feather from his wings and pressed it over the man’s heart.
“Rest in peace. The gates of Heaven are waiting.”
I watched with wonderment as the feather dissipated into tiny flecks of light and felt warmth as something nearly transparent rose from the body. I realized with shock that it was the man’s soul. He hung in the air between Gabriel and me for a moment before floating upward and out of sight. His body faded seconds later, leaving only the bloodstained clothes behind. My fingers closed over the grey duster, which was still salvageable in comparison to the shirt and pants.
“I shall be watching over you always, Jordan Amador...”
About the Author:
Kyoko M is an author, a fan-girl, and an avid book reader.
Her debut novel, The Black Parade, made it through the first round of Amazon's 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. She participated and completed the 2011 National Novel Writing Month competition. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology.
When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.
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