Murder mysteries, p.5
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       Murder Mysteries, p.5

           Neil Gaiman
 
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  RAGUEL NARRATION

  They were waiting for Lucifer and me in Zephkiel's cell: Phanuel, Saraquael, and Zephkiel. Zephkiel was sitting in his chair. Lucifer took up a position beside the window. I walked to centre of the room, and I began.

  RAGUEL THEN

  I thank you all for coming here. You know who I am; you know my function. I am the Vengeance of the Name: the arm of the Lord. I am Raguel.

  (beat)

  The angel Carasel is dead. It was given to me to find out why he died, who killed him. This I have done. Now, the angel Carasel was a designer in the Hall of Being. He was very good, or so I am told...

  (pause)

  Lucifer. Tell me what you were doing, before you came upon Phanuel, and the body.

  LUCIFER

  I have told you already. I was walking.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Where were you walking?

  LUCIFER

  I do not see what business that is of yours.

  RAGUEL THEN

  (light voice treatment)

  Tell me.

  LUCIFER

  Very well. I was walking in the Dark. I have been walking in the Darkness for some time now. It helps me to gain a perspective on the City -- being outside it. I see how fair it is, how perfect. There is nothing more enchanting than our home. Nothing more complete. Nowhere else that anyone would want to be

  RAGUEL THEN

  And what do you do in the Dark, Lucifer?

  LUCIFER

  I walk. And.... There are voices, in the Dark. I listen to the voices. They promise me things, ask me questions, whisper and plead. And I ignore them. I steel myself and I gaze at the City. It is the only way I have of testing myself -- putting myself to any kind of trial. I am the Captain of the Host; I am the first among the Angels, and I must prove myself.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Why did you not tell me this before.

  LUCIFER

  Because I am the only angel who walks in the Dark. Because I do not want others to walk in the Dark: I am strong enough to challenge the voices, to test myself. Others are not so strong. Others might stumble, or fall.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Thank you, Lucifer. That is all, for now.

  /SFX/ LUCIFER WALKS BACK.

  RAGUEL THEN (CONT’D)

  Phanuel. How long have you been taking credit for Carasel's work?

  PHANUEL

  I... I uh... whu-whu-whu...

  RAGUEL THEN

  Well?

  PHANUEL

  I... I would not take credit for another's work.

  RAGUEL NOW

  But you did take credit for Love?

  PHANUEL

  Yes. I did.

  RAGUEL NOW

  Phanuel. Would you care to explain to us all what Love is?

  PHANUEL

  (didactic, with no understanding)

  Er. Yes of course. It's a feeling of deep affection and attraction for another being, often combined with passion or desire -- a need to be with another. The feeling that we have for the Name, for our Creator -- that is Love... amongst other things. Love will be an impulse which will inspire and ruin in equal measure... We are... we are very proud of it.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Who did the majority of the work on Love? No, don't answer. Let me ask the others first. Zephkiel? When Phanuel passed the details on Love to you for approval, who did he tell you was responsible for it?

  ZEPHKIEL

  He told me it was entirely his project.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Thank you, sir. Now, Saraquael: whose was Love?

  SARAQUAEL

  Mine. Mine and Carasel's. Perhaps more his than mine, but we worked on it together.

  RAGUEL THEN

  You knew that Phanuel was claiming the credit for it?

  SARAQUAEL

  ...yes.

  RAGUEL THEN

  And you permitted this?

  SARAQUAEL

  He -- he promised us that he would give us a good project of our own to follow. He promised that if we said nothing we would be given more big projects -- and he was true to his word. He gave us Death.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Well, Phanuel?

  PHANUEL

  It is true that I claimed that Love was mine.

  RAGUEL THEN

  But it was Carasel's. And Saraquael's.

  PHANUEL

  Yes.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Their last project -- before Death?

  PHANUEL

  Yes.

  RAGUEL THEN

  That is all.

  RAGUEL THEN (CONT’D)

  Carasel was a remarkable designer. If he had one failing, it was that he threw himself too deeply into his work. Saraquael? You’re shivering, Saraquael...

  SARAQUAEL

  Am I?

  RAGUEL THEN

  Saraquael. Who did Carasel love? Who was his lover? Well?

  SARAQUAEL

  How did you know?

  RAGUEL THEN

  Just answer my question.

  SARAQUAEL

  I...

  (scared, then proud)

  I was.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Do you want to tell me about it?

  SARAQUAEL

  No. But I suppose I must. Very well, then. We worked together. And when we began to work on Love... we became lovers. It was his idea. We would go back to his cell, whenever we could snatch the time. There we touched each other, held each other, whispered endearments and protestations of eternal devotion. His welfare mattered more to me than my own. I existed for him. When I was alone I would repeat his name to myself, and think of nothing but him. When I was with him...

  (beat)

  ...nothing else mattered.

  RAGUEL AND SARAQUAEL ARE NOW VERY CLOSE, TALKING INTIMATELY.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Then why did you kill him?

  SARAQUAEL

  Because he would no longer loved me. When we started to work on Death he -- he lost interest. He was no longer mine. He belonged to Death. And if I could not have him, then his new lover was welcome to him. I could not bear his presence -- I could not endure to have him near me and to know that he felt nothing for me. That was what hurt the most. I thought... I hoped... that if he was gone then I would no longer care for him -- that the pain would stop.

  (pause)

  /SFX/ OVER THIS WE HEAR A REPEAT OF THE OPENING SEQUENCE -- THE DEATH OF CARASEL.

  SARAQUAEL (CONT’D)

  So I killed him; I stabbed him, and I threw his body from our window in the Hall of Being.

  (nearly wails this, in pain)

  But the pain has not stopped.

  SARAQUAEL (CONT’D)

  Now what?

  /SFX/ FLAMES -- BEGINNING GENTLY THEN BECOMING A ROAR....

  RAGUEL NARRATION

  I felt my aspect begin to come upon me; felt my function possess me. I was no longer an individual -- I was the Vengeance of the Lord.

  RAGUEL THEN

  (treatment))

  Come close to me, Saraquael. Come very close.

  SARAQUAEL

  No... please... no....

  RAGUEL THEN

  (treatment)

  I have a gift for you.

  /SFX/ AS RAGUEL CARRIES OUT SARAQUAEL’S SENTENCE. MUSIC AND FLAME SOUND EFFECTS TELL THE STORY. BURNING, UNDER...

  RAGUEL NARRATION (CONT’D)

  He moved close to me, and I embraced him. I pressed my lips to his, forced my tongue into his mouth. We kissed. He closed his eyes. I felt it well up within me then: a burning, a brightness. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Lucifer and Phanuel averting their faces from my light; I could feel Zephkiel's stare. And my light became brighter and brighter, until it erupted -- from my eyes, from my chest, from my fingers, from my lips: a white, searing fire. The white flames consumed Saraquael slowly, and he clung to me as he burned.

  /SFX/ SARAQUAEL’S DEATH SCREAMS UNDER THE END OF THAT LAST...

  RAGUEL NARRATION
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  Soon there was nothing left of him. Nothing at all. I felt the flame leave me. I returned to myself once more. Phanuel was sobbing. Lucifer was pale. Zephkiel sat in his chair, quietly watching me.

  RAGUEL THEN

  You have seen the Vengeance of the Lord. Let it act as a warning to you both. Phanuel. Lucifer.

  PHANUEL

  It has. Oh it has. I, I will be on my way, sir. I will return to my appointed post. If that is all right with you?

  RAGUEL THEN

  Go.

  /SFX/ WINGS BEATING

  LUCIFER

  Nothing. There is nothing left of Saraquael. You destroyed him. Look. No fragment of ash, or bone, or even a charred feather. It is as if he never existed at all.

  RAGUEL THEN

  He existed. But he’s gone.

  LUCIFER

  (trying to hold back tears)

  That was not right. That was not just.

  (and then the tears begin)

  RAGUEL THEN

  It was justice. He killed another. He was killed in his turn. You called me to my function, and I performed it.

  LUCIFER

  But... he loved. He should have been forgiven. He should have been helped. He should not have been destroyed like that. That was wrong.

  RAGUEL THEN

  It was the will of our creator, the will of the Name.

  LUCIFER

  Then perhaps His will is unjust. Perhaps the voices in the darkness speak truly after all. How can this be right?

  RAGUEL THEN

  It is right. It is His will. I merely performed my function.

  LUCIFER

  No. I must think on this. I... will go now.

  /SFX/ WINGBEATS. LUCIFER FLIES AWAY.

  ZEPHKIEL

  Did you observe the liquid that came from Lucifer’s eyes.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Yes.

  ZEPHKIEL

  It’s called tears. How strange. Carasel was the first to love, but Lucifer was the first to shed tears.

  ZEPHKIEL

  So. It is over. You have performed your function well, Raguel. Shouldn't you return to your cell, to wait until you are next needed?

  /SFX/CROSS FADE TO:

  /SFX/LOS ANGELES NOISES

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  So. Saraquael did it. A murder for love. Yes. I can understand that. It makes so much more sense than a motiveless death, doesn’t it? The kind where you don’t know why you did it. The kind you could never explain.

  RAGUEL NOW

  I’ll take a last cigarette from you, now. If you’re offering.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  Sure. You don’t honestly expect me to believe any of this, do you?

  RAGUEL NOW

  Story’s not over yet, pal. Not quite.

  /SFX/ LOS ANGELES CROSSFADES TO

  /SFX/ ZEPHKIEL’S CELL...

  RAGUEL NARRATION

  I knew that he was right. But I couldn't have left then -- not even if I had wanted to. My aspect had not entirely left me; my function was not completely fulfilled. And then it fell into place; I saw the whole picture. And like Lucifer, I knelt. I touched my forehead to the silver floor.

  RAGUEL THEN

  No, Lord. Not yet.

  /SFX/ZEPHKIEL STANDS UP

  ZEPHKIEL

  Lord indeed! Get up, Raguel. It is not fitting for one angel to act in this way to another. It is not right. Get up!

  RAGUEL THEN

  Father, You are no angel.

  ZEPHKIEL

  Do you know what you’re saying?

  RAGUEL THEN

  Father, I was charged to discover who was responsible for Carasel's death. And I do know.

  ZEPHKIEL

  You have taken your vengeance, Raguel.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Your vengeance, Lord.

  /SFX/ ZEPHKIEL SITS BACK DOWN IN HIS CHAIR.

  ZEPHKIEL

  Ah, little Raguel. The problem with creating things is that they perform so much better than one had ever planned. Shall I ask how you recognised me?

  RAGUEL THEN

  I... I am not certain, Lord. You have no wings. You wait at the centre of the city, supervising the Creation directly. When I destroyed Saraquael, You did not look away. You know too many things. You...

  (beat)

  No, I do not know how I know. As You say, You have created me well. But I only understood who You were and the meaning of the drama we had enacted here for You, when I saw Lucifer leave.

  ZEPHKIEL

  What did you understand, child?

  RAGUEL THEN

  Who killed Carasel. Or at least, who was pulling the strings. For example, who arranged for Carasel and Saraquael to work together on Love, knowing Carasel's tendency to involve himself too deeply in his work?

  ZEPHKIEL

  (condescending, like an adult speaking to a child)

  Why should anyone have "pulled the strings", Raguel? Please, get up. Off your knees.

  RAGUEL THEN

  Because nothing occurs without reason; and all the reasons are Yours. You set Saraquael up: yes, he killed Carasel. But he killed Carasel so that I could destroy him.

  ZEPHKIEL

  And were you wrong to destroy him?

  RAGUEL THEN

  It was my function. But I do not think it was just. I think perhaps it was needed that I destroy Saraquael, in order to demonstrate to Lucifer the Injustice of the Lord.

  ZEPHKIEL

  And whatever reason would I have for doing that?

  RAGUEL THEN

  I... I do not know. I do not understand -- no more than I understand why You created the Dark, or the voices in the darkness. But You did. You caused all this to occur.

  /SFX/ A MOMENT’S SILENCE AS THE WIND BLOWS

  ZEPHKIEL

  Yes. I did. Lucifer must brood on the unfairness of Saraquael's destruction. And that -- amongst other things, -- will precipitate him into certain actions. Poor sweet Lucifer. His way will be the hardest of all my children; for there is a part he must play in the drama that is to come, and it is a grand role.

  (pause)

  What will you do now, Raguel?

  RAGUEL THEN

  I must return to my cell. My function is now fulfilled. I have taken vengeance, and I have revealed the perpetrator. That is enough. But -- Lord?

  ZEPHKIEL

  Yes, child.

  RAGUEL THEN

  I feel dirty. I feel tarnished. I feel befouled. Perhaps it is true that all that happens is in accordance with Your will, and thus it is good. But sometimes You leave blood on Your instruments.

  ZEPHKIEL

  Perhaps I do. If you wish, Raguel, you may forget all this. All that has happened this day. However, you will not be able to speak of this to any other angels, whether you choose to remember it or not.

  RAGUEL THEN

  I will remember it.

  ZEPHKIEL

  It is your choice. But sometimes you will find it is easier by far not to remember. Forgetfulness can sometimes bring freedom, of a sort. Now, if you do not mind, there is work I should be getting on with.

  /SFX/ UNDER THIS LAST, ZEPHKIEL OPENS A BOOK, BEGINS TO WRITE

  RAGUEL NARRATION

  I stood up and walked to the window. I hoped He would call me back, explain every detail of His plan to me, somehow make it all better. But He said nothing, and I left His Presence without ever looking back.

 
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