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House of Cabal Vol. 3

Chapter One

In Eden’s Garden, outside Earth’s timeline, Dana Parr asked how my opera was going.

I told her, without going into detail, that I had expected Chuck Pointer to lead me into the next regression to find out more about the House of Cabal, maybe reveal who the Director was, but things had fallen apart, so I had returned to Eden’s Garden for solace.

“Pensleep, things fall apart. It’s normal. Some would say inevitable.”

I gestured to the thriving life all around us. A profusion of moth-bat hybrids pollinated an orchard. Dozens of different kinds of citrus fruit grew from each spiral branch. The fruit didn’t have seeds. Life in the garden didn’t multiply, but life did grow and change. One thing led to another, even though everything existed at once if you could bear to look.

Nothing here ended. “Not in paradise.”

She didn’t seem to agree.

On a distant hill, an echo of Adam chased an echo of Eve among the trunks of a verdant banjo grove covered with marsupial tree-fish that only woke when it rained. They migrated when the thick leaves were wet and dripping. Now the fish looked like translucent rosebuds.

“Adam and Eve were here. They fell apart, didn’t they? Why else would they ask to be erased?”

I didn’t have answers. Their erasure and the resulting Big Bang fascinated Dana, but I had agonized over the first humans for long enough and had moved on to the enigmas of the House of Cabal.

Dana would often transform herself to look like Eve—she could become anything in the garden—but I liked her more when she looked like herself. Eve’s perfection felt untouchable. Her skin was like obsidian. Her eyes were like burning stars. Dana’s flawed beauty was more inviting.

“You have always been a bit timid compared to the other witness angels,” Dana told me as she pried apart a beetle and watched it form back together. Nothing could die or feel pain in paradise. “Don’t get me wrong. Your patience has served you well. But it’s time to be bold. Look at the dissolution without flinching. You’ll get your story then.”

“Oh, frustration is not the same as giving up. It’s when things fall apart that they get interesting.”

“Are you waiting for me to fall apart?” The beetle flew off into the sky to join a passing swarm.

“You have been building yourself into a tower.”

“Have I?”

I brushed her blonde hair out of her eyes. “Towers fall.”

“I want to reach the heavens. I want to see God.” She gazed up at me as if I was the God of which she spoke.

I felt played, but I liked the game. “Haven’t you heard of Icarus?”

“I already know of the city of Eden outside the garden gates. And the angelic army that waits forever for Armageddon. The more I discover, the more curious I get.”

“You’ve been talking to Uriel.”

“And I know of the angel’s city, the citadel, and the throne of God at its center. I have been here for an eternity. Don’t I have the right to see my creator?”

“You are just a child.” I didn’t mean to be cold, but I hadn’t seen God either. No witness angel had.

Who was Dana to have such aspirations? No one. Just a human.

I kissed her because I was angry and alone.

She laughed at me. It was not the reaction I was hoping for. My human form is the pinnacle of male beauty.

“You loved Eve, didn’t you? And you call me a child. Angels can be so human sometimes. You let her go because you loved her.”

“I don’t remember. She’s gone. She escaped this reality. She grew bored with this place. Bored with me.”

“You don’t know that. Adam and Eve leaving caused the Big Bang. This might come as a shock, but maybe the birth of the universe wasn’t about you.”

“Maybe. Maybe I don’t care.”

I hadn’t told Dana, but she and her husband Thomas had been in the regression, scheming at the House of Cabal shortly before it collapsed into the ocean, which meant they escape the garden somehow without causing another Big Bang. It was impossible. What was here in the garden couldn’t leave. I was missing a vital piece of the puzzle.

I spun in frustration, ripping at the ground. “The House of Cabal is making me lose my mind!” I collapsed onto the razed circle of dirt. “They have technology from Eden. Nothing escapes Eden!”

Dana was used to my tantrums. “You do.”

“I’m an angel. I’m not bound to the timeline. You on the other hand—if you leave, your infinite self would have to be compressed back into a finite point in timespace.” I ran my hands through the earth, scattering worms and other burrowing things, and smeared the dirt over my skin as if part of some tribal ritual. “The resulting release of energy . . .”

“Yes, yes, another Big Bang. The universe would be restarted. I get it. Maybe it was you.” She walked around the circle, theorizing. “Maybe you’re the one who founded the House of Cabal. After all, you can travel through time. You can leave this place. You could give the technology of Eden to the founders.”

I stopped rubbing my body with dirt. “Why would I do that?”

“Are you kidding me? You’re a witness angel. Your primal goal is to tell a worthy story to God. You probably created the story and just don’t know it yet.”

“I wouldn’t put it past me. But if that’s true, I’m a real bastard. I hid everything so well, I can’t even figure out the story!”

“You made sure other angels wouldn’t find it first. You said things fall apart. Witness how. Keep following the threads. I’m sure the plot will become clear eventually.”

I stood and brushed off some of the dirt. “When did you become my mentor?”

“When you started listening to good advice.”

Even though it seemed Dana would never be seduced, I was thankful she had stumbled into my garden. She was special.

“I already know whose destiny thread I should follow,” I admitted, changing into my non-human form so I could travel back to Earth. “Meredith Pointer.”

“The biographer’s wife? It’s about time you started paying attention to the women.” Dana transformed into Eve, I think just to torment me. “Go. Find your opera. Don’t come back until you have something amazing to tell. You don’t want me to become bored and disappear like Eve, do you?”

Behind her smile, she was building her tower, yet I did nothing to stop her. Maybe I wanted to see her fall.

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