halos and horns

Kabir tossed onto his side and tried hard to ignore the desperate knocking on his window. When it did not go away even after several minutes he opened his eyes to see a cupid flapping his tiny wings hard while he carried a large hamper in one hand and was tapping the window with another. Kabir groaned and opened the window, “Thank you for shopping with us…” the Cupid tried to say in a cheery voice but had to stop to catch his breath, “please rate me!” He placed the hamper on the windowsill, pulled out his mobile from his tiny diaper like pants, rated Kabir five stars and flew away. Kabir closed his eyes, but it was no use the roar of traffic from the street would not let him sleep.

He looked at the hamper, and flared his nostrils, “You are wonderful, but you do stink sweetheart. Take a shower and I promise you will remember tonight. S.” He threw the hamper in the direction of the bathroom.  It was one thing to receive a hamper from his girlfriend, it was another thing when she was a demon. And she always ended up charging it to his own account! Well, was she a demon?

Technically she was a Nagin, but he was not sure where she fits in in the new social order. She was not one of the divines for sure. He couldn’t stand them anyways: Angels, Elves, Devas or Gandharvas…pompous asses all of them. Still, it would do him well to know his girlfriend’s social standing, whether she was classified as an Asura or a Danava or a demon or if the Nagas had a separate class of their own. Right now all he knew was she definitely classified as a hot ass.

Kabir yawned and stretched in front of the window as a minor demon flew by carrying a small packet, it’s eyes glinting red. He leaned on the window sill and looked at the traffic. He saw a few orcs marching to the armour manufacturing factory downtown. He should get his armour checked soon, never knew when he would need it. A small delegation of Angels flew by singing hymns, Kabir closed his eyes and listened to them, it was a guilty pleasure he wouldn’t admit to even under a necromancer’s spell. A golden chariot weaved its way through the traffic glinting like a new dime, the Deva at its helm unheeding if he ran over anyone. Kabir watched a few asura teenagers flip him off. A minor demon slinked closer to them and flipped the Deva off, and tried to sell them something. It had been two years since the quantum wardrobe malfunction had ripped the celestial fabric apart and all the dimensions of the multiverse could suddenly see through each other’s skins. Everything had changed all of a sudden and then everything was the same again. Kabir scratched his ass as he walked to his bathroom.

Kabir ended up taking a long shower, but most of the products his girlfriend had sent made his smell like a poached egg. He was soaking in his bathtub when the door to his apartment began ringing. He let it ring assuming it was another delivery from his girlfriend. She wanted him to buy new underwear for God knew what joy. But soon there was knocking on the door and it looked like the door would be broken down. Kabir wrapped a towel around himself and picked up his gun, thought better of it and picked up his wand. He opened the door. Two gentlemen in crisp white silk suits stood at his door, one of them had a raised wrist which was glowing golden. He lowered the wrist as he saw Kabir. Kabir tucked his wand into the back of his towel but not before they both saw it. Kabir knew two Angels when he saw them, and though he was awed by the power that seemed to seep out of them, he knew these were probably just errand boys for one of the big corporations. They looked at each other and back at him, “Kabir Kanungan?”

“Yes… who’s asking?”

“Please come with us…” they said in voices that were difficult to resist.

“Where are we going?” Kabir managed to say.

“Everything will be answered in time…” one of them said in a soothing voice.

‘This is why I hate you bastards’, Kabir thought. But he could see the tips of their fingers glowing and he knew there was no point arguing.

“Give me a minute to change,” he said.

One of the Angels snapped his fingers and Kabir was dry and dressed in his best suit. He glared at the Angel who simply smiled back at him.

They walked down to the ground floor of his building which was a good thing, Kabir hated what Angels called flying…it made his stomach feel like it had been freshly scrambled. But he could feel the glares of all his neighbours who would invariably blame him for bringing Angels into their esteemed establishment. Kabir was glad to be seated in the golden Mercedes and driven away from his quarter of the city.

Before he could get used to the splendid interiors of his ride, he was being wheeled into the special interdimensional economic zone of the Divinity business park, it’s gold and glass buildings glittered like polished gems in the air. Kabir was ushered into an office building and into a secret elevator that zoomed them up to the top floor of the building. The whole floor was a single office and Kabir was made to wait in the foyer, in the company of a seductively divine apsara assistant who smiled at him like she could read his deepest thoughts and liked them. Kabir had no idea how long he waited before he was ushered into the office.

For a moment he seemed to have walked into the clouds as a beautiful sun rose over an endless horizon and the next moment he was in an office that would have been infinitely impressive if not for the vision he had had just a moment before.

Sitting before him was an Angel of resplendent beauty. Kabir was sure she was not an average Angel though he could not say what level she was. The fact that she was revealed to him, with her wings spread wide around her…told him of the gravity of the meeting. Sitting beside her on a cloud of darkness was a Danava. He glowed with a fluorescent deep red light as if he were made of fresh lava. Kabir gulped, he was not sure how good it was that they were revealing themselves to him so openly. Few humans survived such encounters unscathed.

“Kabir…we have a need for your services.” the Angel said in a voice that made Kabir want to agree immediately.

“Something personal I presume…” Kabir said.

The Angel and the Danava looked at each other and nodded at him.

“We are informed you are the best human detective…someone dependable…” the Danava said.

“and someone disposable….” Kabir added.

The Angel smiled at him, “we need you to find my brother…who is missing.”

The Danava glared at him, “and my sister…who is also missing.”

Kabir gulped hard, “Together?…” he managed to ask.

The Angel and the Danava looked at each other, Kabir could feel every single hair on his body twitch because of the tension in the room.

“Let us see what you investigation reveals…” the Angel finally said.

“Do this for us and your wildest dreams will come true…” the Danava managed to make it sound like a curse.

“Yes, your wildest dreams…” the Angel said and Kabir could see glimpses of his dreams coming true, “but…” the glimpses stopped “we need you to be discreet about it…if anyone ever finds out…it will be most unpleasant, for you…” her wings made chopping motions in the air. The Danava made some lava ooze into his hand and it caught fire as he smiled menacingly at Kabir.

Kabir gave a sincere nod, he didn’t need any reminders of the gravity of the situation. An Angel and a Danava getting involved was never a good thing, if they had done anything that had made the Angels and Danavas form an alliance, however tentative, then this was no laughing matter at all. Kabir considered his options or the lack of them.

“Would there be any reason for you to refuse the offer?” the Angel said as if reading his mind.

Kabir gulped hard, “I guess not…”

“Good…” the Danava said as if he wished Kabir had declined, “we will expect regular reports…detailed reports”.

Kabir nodded.

“Of course…Kabir…we will be watching” the Angel smiled at Kabir before one of her wings pointed to the door and Kabir walked out of it.

Kabir was not provided with an escort back to his place, he just walked back trying to think of what he could do. He imagined what S would say about his current situation, “another smelly pickle you have gotten yourself into, huh?” she would shrug before slithering down on him. He wished he could hear her hiss right now, he always found it soothing. But this was way too serious to get her involved in. Kabir stayed in his room waiting for the night and what little cover the darkness brought him. When it was dark enough, he slipped into the night. He walked, a long twisted road to the edge of the city, and stopped in front of an old factory building. He pulled out his wand and his gun and checked all around him. He raised his wand and muttered several incantations. Nothing happened, but then his knowledge of magical spells and trackers was not the most comprehensive. He shrugged, this was the best he could do. He entered the building.

The building was covered in darkness. He uttered an incantation, a thin silvery light slithered out of his wand and crawled onto the ground. It crawled to the centre of the building made an intricate pattern on the floor and dissolved into it. The pattern glowed in the dark, Kabir waited. A light seemed to switch on in one part of the factory. The light walked towards Kabir. An Angel stepped out of the darkness towards him, he was the source of the light.

Kabir walked towards the Angel, the Angel gestured him to stop. The Angel muttered something under his breath, a thread of light shot towards Kabir, it crawled all over his skin as if searching for anything that might be hidden in there. When it couldn’t find anything, the light simply dissolved into his skin. “He is clear…” the Angel said to someone behind him. A dark figure stepped into the Angel’s light. Kabir recognised her skin which seemed to have cracks that glowed with fluorescent red light like lava. Kabir had not seen her before, this high profile Danava heiress that had decided to fall for the Angel. The Angel himself was highly ranked if his original passport was to be believed. Kabir stared at the Danava, she had a small lithe frame, an angular face with thin horns that curved in a sensuous way. Her two canines were long and sharp and reached her chin. Her long tail swirled around restlessly and she flexed her long claws at Kabir. Kabir could see why the Angel liked her.

“What is she doing here?” Kabir asked the Angel.

“You can ask her herself, and she is here because she wants to be” the Danava glared at him and muttered under her breath. A red stream of hot light flowed towards Kabir and seemed to enter him from every orifice, he felt as if a thousand hands made up of lava were scorching every bit of his body. “He is clear. My side isn’t tracking him either” the Danava announced.

“Did you bring the papers?” the Angel asked Kabir.

“No, you both know getting duplicates of your passports and other documents is a difficult job. It will take longer” Kabir said.

“Then why are you here?” the Danava placed a hand on her belly as she leaned against the Angel.

Kabir looked at her bump and wondered how long it would take her baby, how did anyone even know in such a case, “I am here to let you know that I have been hired to track you guys down.”

The Angel and the Danava looked at each other and then at her belly.

“That is good news actually, it means they have not started using any other resources to track us,” the Danava said.

“Yes, it is good you got the job, it would help us know what they were up to…might give us the edge we need to escape…” the Angel said.

“That is assuming he does want to help us escape. I still don’t know if we should fully trust him…” the Danava half whispered. Kabir glared at her and she glared back, “why are you helping us? There is no way this can end well for you. No matter which side you betray, you will have to pay for it…”

Kabir stared at her belly, “That thing in your belly…your baby…it is going to change history. This mess that our worlds have gotten into…with all of our realities merging together….well, your baby might hold a key to the answer. It might help fix things to the way they were before. As for paying the price…people like us always pay the price, no matter what side we chose, might as well do something worth paying the price for.”

The Danava stroked her belly again, “that’s an awful lot to expect from a baby…” but she smiled at Kabir.

“They will start tracking your every move. You will have to start being more careful…” the Angel said.

“I will…I will also try and get your new passports done as soon as I can…” Kabir said, “I will need something to report to them so I will have to use this place. We will figure out another location for our next rendezvous. I will get in touch when I have something…”

“Thank you…” the Angel and Danava smiled at him and receded into the darkness of the factory.

Kabir stepped out and looked at the night sky, the hundreds of holes that had opened into different realities gleamed at him and offered him a hundred different views of a hundred different skies. Kabir looked back at the factory and walked towards his room, hoping for a day when he could look up and see a single night sky.

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

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