Night crept slowly upon the day, stalking it as a predator stalks its prey. Patient and quiet, darkness pursued the light endlessly around the globe. As day fled, so too did the people flee before the night, scurrying to homes and electric light, thinking themselves safe if only they were protected from the shadows that gathered at their doors. The final struggle between night and day, light and darkness was a spectacular battle. The sky was set aflame in orange and gold, luminous red blood of the falling sun splashed across the dome of the sky, and slowly, inevitably, the deep purples and cool indigos of evening spread and strangled the last remnants of life from the heavens.
Tabris had no eyes for the sky and its eternal war, nor did he care if someone saw him in his walk. It may have been dangerous, but he could not muster the almost paranoid preoccupation that he appear as normal, as harmless, as human as possible to whoever might be watching him.
And there was always someone watching. No one went anywhere, did anything without at least one witness.
Tonight he could not care. He was tired beyond anxiety, beyond mere exhaustion. He could not remember ever feeling so weary in his existence, which was considerable. With nowhere else to go and no one left to trust, he came here to grieve.
In generations past this cemetery had been a morbid source of pride to the town in which it resided. Tombs and mausoleums littered the grounds in profusion, and overgrown gardens showed that this had once been more than just a place of death. Monuments varied from the simple to the ornate, but all of them were beautiful, the final gifts of family ones who had moved beyond the appreciation for finery or even love. And the statues…
Once the statues had been nearly as populace as the residents interred. Angels, all of them. Cherubim, archangel, adult, child, male, female, joyous, mournful, glorifying, sitting, standing, kneeling in prayer or reclining in sleep, there had been more angels in this graveyard than possibly in any other in the world.
All broken, now.
When the war had begun and the people come to understand its nature, they had come here and shattered every depiction of an angel they could find. Limbs of stone were littered about like gruesome remains; here an arm, there a wing, a bit of flowing raiment there, from that bush an eye once raised in supplication now stared up at the sky in blank incomprehension.
This had not been the work of random hoodlums, Tabris knew. This had been a concerted effort by every able hand of the town to destroy the images of a once beloved race that had abruptly, inexplicably become an enemy of immeasurable cruelty. The people of the town took out their rage, their fear and their grief on whatever form of angel they could find, be it flesh or stone. Now this was a cemetery for both, humans and angels alike, with the once-protectors left without so much as a grave themselves.
Walking amongst the broken remnants, Tabris grieved. He grieved the fallen, what his people had become, the cruelty they somehow felt justified inflicting upon the humans, the hate and suffering that had sprung up like a poisonous weed between them.
He ached for home, but it was an ache that would never be eased. He could never go back; none of them could ever go back. They were trapped here, grounded and barred from their home of millennia. There could be no forgiveness for what they had done, the slaughter they had brought.
Those most in need of forgiveness would never seek it, and those who craved it could never forgive themselves.
He knelt down beside one angel that had survived the mass defacement almost intact. Only its wings were missing, rocky stubs protruding from its back.
His shoulders stung, the old amputations crying out in sympathy to this likewise crippled sister. To have once had the skies and now to only have the mud was a kind of torture that the physical loss of one’s wings could only represent. The pain of broken bone and hot knife, the smell of blood and burning feathers were temporary agonies that quickly became nothing but memories. To no longer know the joy and freedom of the skies was an agony that was always fresh.
They were all broken. Even and perhaps especially those brethren that still fought and killed. They were all broken angels, and in the garden of death Tabris wept amongst his brothers and sisters of stone.