There is little that makes sense when I step out of the amphetamine-laced walls of the hole I met, really met, Ember in. The stench lingered on me, the chemical smell of boiling drugs. Snorting into my cigarette, ash balloons out in small carcinogenic tornadoes There was no telling where I was walking too, or if I was heading towards anything in particular as I spat the cigarette from my mouth.
Filthy, not the cigarette, me. Walking into that apartment building, I had been righteous. Now, I was just a man that lacked the courage of his convictions. She called us Nephilim, the sons of gods and daughters of men. Whatever that meant. Before, I had been a detective, afterwards, I still was. There was no divinity to Lucidity. We were the same scared children crying in the dark and looking for answers.
Maybe that is what was appealing about the Keepers. The Keepers did not try to explain our nature or the supernatural connections. They understood that people with power tend to abuse the powerless and that meant protecting the innocent. Maybe that resonated with my cop mind. Was it that simple though? Ember was a killer, the Dark was a hungry place and she shared that ravenous need for life.
Who did she kill though? Killers, would be killers? Wasn’t that the protection of the innocent as well? Was she damned because of her gifts? If she were one of them, they would call her a vigilante, mundane, weak and something ultimately destined for failure or death. She was Lucid, or Nephilim, or whatever, and so it was unlikely any beat cop, pimp or drug dealer was ever going to be able to stop her. Why should I though? What gave me any greater authority over her?
Sliding down into the hard plastic of a transit stop bench my eyes drift over empty streets. What would it be if everything was even? What if she was just a fly by night vigilante and I was still a real cop? She would have killed at least four people, no matter how justified; she would be arrested, and be forced to stand trial. We weren’t normal though were we? There was no arrest; there was no judge or jury of her peers. She was Lucid and a killer. According to the Keepers that meant she had to die.
She wasn’t just murdering random people, Ember knew them. Knew them in a way no mundane cop or judge could ever know the heart of a man on trial. Did that matter? According to the Keepers it didn’t. The murder of the mundane was justified only in the most extreme cases of defense. In the eyes of the Keepers she had to die.
What was I then? I had seen this woman, heard the stories that no one shares. Nephilim she called us, more than man. Did that make us the incarnation of angels and demons? Somehow, I did not believe Ember though herself a god. So why the pretentious titles? That alone would sanction her execution.
Nearly four and there was no escape from the heat on the street. Trying to put together any coherent thoughts seemed doomed to circular logic. Sweating and staring down the street at the oncoming bus I felt like a line assembler in one of the big auto plants. Only my one arm, the one that screws down the frame’s bolts is malfunctioning. It keeps tightening down, and I can hear the frame grinding in my mind.
The bus arrives with a wave of heat and dust and neon adverts for some casino down the line in Little Osaka. Wiping the sweat from my face, my palm comes away wet and dripping grey. Automatic doors swing open and I go from the hell of a jungle’s fires to bitter snow. The blast of control air jars me, turns me into brittle and I can hear little chunks of myself breaking off as I stand to get into the bus.
What part of me was being left out in the morning heat? I needed to think, and to do that, I needed to understand who Ember really was. I needed to know what it meant to be Nephilim.