“Dead?” whispered Annie. ” You mean I killed him?”
“Of course you didn’t kill him,” said Lucifer patiently.
“I put him somewhere.”
“You didn’t kill him,” he said, once again.
There was a sudden pounding on the door. “Open up Lucifer. Now!”
“Should I answer the door?” asked Clark.
“I’ll get it,” said Lucifer, pulling the door open. “Can I help you?” he said, to the three large angles standing in the hallway.
“Gabriel is dead,” said the tallest angel.
“And?” said Lucifer, calmly.
“How did you do it?”
Lucifer slammed the door and waited.
The pounding started almost at once.
“W h a t do you want?”
The angels looked at him. “You killed him.”
“He didn’t, ” said Annie. “I killed him.”
All three angels looked at her. “You’re a child,” said one of the others. “Go sit down?”
“EXCUSE me?” said Annie. “I’m almost eighteen years old, I am not a child.”
“A difficult child,” said another angel. “A difficult child with orange wings.”
“Did you just say that I was DIFFICULT?”
“I did. I also said that your wings were orange.”
“Annie, please allow me to take care of these gentlemen,” said Lucifer, his hand on her shoulder.
“So, you think I’m a DIFFICULT CHILD?”
“Annie,” said Clark. “The chicken came to visit.”
“In a minute,” said Annie, glaring at the angels.
“Cluck,” said the chicken, as she walked up to Annie and began pecking at her shoelaces. Annie reached down and ran her hand across the hen’s back. “Cluck.”
“You running a zoo now, Lucifer?” laughed the biggest angel. “I see cats, hounds and a chicken. I never took you for an animal lover. Oh, wait, you do love humans, so I guess I was wrong.” All three angels began to laugh.
Cats suddenly filled the room, their ears back, their hisses loud, their tails swishing back and forth in the most menacing way. The puppies started growling and the floor began to vibrate.
“We need a wider doorway,” sighed Lucifer, smiling at Annie.
“You’re going to stand trial for murdering of Gabriel.”
“When did I do it?” asked Lucifer?
The three angels looked at each other. “When he died.”
“Can you be more specific?” asked Lucifer.
“How dumb are these guys?” said Annie, to the hen, who continued to peck at her shoes.
“Back off kid, or we’ll come for you next.”
Lucifer grew to fill the doorway. Rays of what looked like sunlight shot out of his eyes and his gigantic black wings started to unfurl (he couldn’t open them all the way, of course, because there wasn’t nearly enough room). He looked down upon the three cowering angels who were currently on their knees, their heads bowed, trembling with fear. “YOU SEEM TO HAVE FORGOTTEN YOUR MANNERS. I AM LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR AND YOUR INSOLENCE WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED.” Lucifer snapped his fingers and all that was left of the three angels was a rather large pile of grit. “I think I’ve been being too nice for too long,” he sighed, turing toward Annie, Clark, the hen and about a hundred and seventy-five cats. “Where did all the cats come from?”
Annie smiled. “They know when I’m upset. They always show up.”
“I see,” he said, staring at the Hellhounds who were already coming down from attack mode. “Well, the immediate danger seems to be over. How about some chocolate cake?”
“One second,” said Annie, who plopped down onto the floor, so that the cats could rub against her. They patted her face with their paws, did upside down cat, and crawled over her body, marking her as their own. She kissed them and thanked them and held tight, petting their ears and their backs. The chicken jumped into the fray and tried to sit on Annie’s lap but there were just too many cats and no one was willing to make room for a chicken. Annie’s eyes opened wide when her heart jumped in her chest. She started to speak but smiled instead, when she realized that her heart was now beating in sync with those of the cats. She could hear it inside herself. The cats sat staring at her, acknowledging the moment.. “I love you,” she whispered, blowing kisses at them. “More than you’ll ever know.” They sang to her and then began to drift away. Some went out windows and others just disappeared.
Annie got to her feet, picked up the chicken, and went into the kitchen. “I want a big piece of cake,” she said. “I want ice cream too. Are there any sprinkles?”
“And the chicken is hungry as well.”