Furious Angels Inc.
Sally Benedictine Goode
A flower does not choose its color.
It was her little sister, first. Cecily. She had dark hair and long eyelashes, both wispy and thin. But so loud. So precious. It was an accident. Little Valentina Charles didn’t know that her baby sister’s life would go away with the last bubbles that floated up in the bath. They floated up like startled birds at first, in a hurry, sputtering and flying from her mouth and eyes, and then at last like afterthoughts, like the lingering patrons of a movie matinee.
The family did not move away. Her parents were never afraid of the bathroom where their younger daughter had died. They did not shun their older daughter; they did not look away from her large, dark eyes. The Charles couple taught her how to hunt instead. How to wait. How to shoot. How to hold back the urges and use them constructively in the murder of non-humans. She prowled the forests of her Vermont home, she stalked through the village. She hung the antlers and trophies around the house, her parents beamingly proud to have given her an outlet for “badness”.
Next came a Teacher. Senior year of high school. He was young. He had a lovely wife. He would kiss Valentina’s hair as he helped her study. She learned many things. Her parents were out of town, and they were “learning” together by the fire place when she learned something less pleasant: he would not leave his wife. This time it wasn’t an accident. She pushed him into the open fire and held him down with the poker.
The fire had taken evidence with it. He had tripped. The flames used his body as fuel and stepped through the hearth and swallowed the house of books and taxidermy trophies and Valentina had endured something horrible.
The whole house burned, and everyone heard the screams. This time, her parents moved away. So did the rest of the small village, the shadow of the scorched Charles Estate and the smoldering spirits who lived there now unbearable and menacing.
She was finally herself. What she was meant to be. And this place of ash and fire-scrubbed childhood was finally home. It would always be home.
But she would never be messy again. It would never be an accident again.
After the Teacher, there were many more. They were like figure studies, sketches, doodles, exercises, a perfection of the art. She learned how to wield chemicals and fire, tools that clean the mess but leave enough of a signature.
None of them are people. She is not people. Valentina is a hunter, a dancer, a graceful snuffer of candles. She doesn’t do anything wrong. It’s not her fault. A flower does not choose its color.
Valentina is now 25. A disciplined executioner who has polished her skills but has no where to use them, except in play. The money that came with her last name is running out. She lives in Indiana. Quiet town. This is not a hunting ground—low buildings and few trees and no secrets. This is a rest. The brush strokes of blood she has trailed between home and this place have left her ready and unfulfilled. Ready for what? More death? A masterpiece?
Uncomfortable questions come with resting. Questions about herself. What is she? A serial killer?
Graham is a serial killer. Charming. Beautiful. Talented. Yin to her Yang, dark hair and light eyes, madness to her discipline, careful distinguished taste to her hunger. Graham. His first kill was with fire. Now he works in water.
They are the same species. Mates. In her tiny home in Indiana, she has told her neighbors that she is a painter, and he is working with her as her model. And he, this love, this fierce and dreadful monster of a man, will indeed be her masterpiece. They met, they kissed, they came together after finding they had been hunting each other.
She knows they will kill each other. She knows it like other couples in love know they will get married. But they don’t pull the trigger, they don’t have the conversation because where they are is comfortable, it’s the same as any other love story.
One night, she has a surprise for him. It’s time. There are rose petals everywhere, candles in the entry way, he comes home to a loving embrace and a poisoned knife in his shoulder. He doesn’t go down. He won’t. He loves her too much to be the one to die. Graham nearly drowns her in the sink. Her fire has already started; Valentina feels the heat of the flames around them as she tastes his blood that has been dripping into the water. The fire department arrives, giving her enough room to wriggle out of Graham’s loving grasp and smash her beloved’s head into the counter. He collapses. So does the ceiling, sending flaming hunks of house crashing all around them. Sally is hit in the shoulder by a sticky, molten section of insulation that burns its way through her clothes and skin. The scar will never heal; its a miracle the muscles will.
There is a wall of fire between her and Graham’s body. Firemen are hacking their way into the house. She barely escapes through a window, and it isn’t until she is deep in the night that she screams for her seared shoulder, and she cries for failing Graham so entirely. He must be dead. And she made such a terrible mess of his death. She is ashamed.
She runs west.
She looks and listens for work, something with her skill set.
She hears rumors about Angels.
She hears rumors that a man with burns is looking for her.
Valentina calls herself Sally. Sally Goode.
Graham wanted to kill Valentina more than anything else in the world. Sally lets Valentina die in the sink, just like he wished.
Valentina is gone. It’s time to do some good work now.