Men Djinn and Angels Short Stories
Lilith & Agaliarept
Lilith sprinted. Her thin, glistening legs were a streak of ebony. She ran as if her life depended on how fast she lifted her bruised knees; how fast she swung her scrapped arms; how accurately her bare feet stepped on the uneven path. Dust darted behind her. A muscular back, smooth and shiny curved as she ducked under a branch. It straightened when she leaped over an imposing termite mound. She approached the garden perimeter. She could see the wall of sequoias just beyond the cattleyas. One large gasp for air, her lungs burned. The trees grew taller. Freedom awaited.
She did not so foolishly expect the world beyond the sequoias to be as sedative as what she left behind. There was no way to know what to expect. Behind the wall of trees could be no more than a swirling firmament. She did not care. Despite the uncertainty, her escape into it was the right choice. More importantly, it was her choice.
Lilith reached the trees. Their trunks close. She doubted it was possible to pass through them. She hesitated; her breath heavy. One look left and then right. The line of trees was a fortified wall as far as she could see. If she was to make her escape complete, she needed to find an opening or squeeze her naked body between the rough bark. She expected pain, cuts and scrapes – a small price for absolute freedom.
A voice echoed in her ears, or maybe it was in her mind. Was it Adamu calling for her? It did not sound like his voice. Perhaps it was an angel; or maybe a djinni. Adamu warned her they were outside the wall of trees. What if she answered the calling? How would Adamu feel about that? The desire to rebel against his every command bloated in her chest. She would speak to a djinni if it addressed her, but not now. She needed to find the opening between the trees. She saw it three steps to the left. She hoped it was wide enough. First the leg, then an arm and shoulder; next came the hip and the head – she was through. One step to the side and then a sudden drop. She plummeted. The slope was gentle, but the crumbled rocks, sand and gravel beneath her tumble were hot blades against her skin.
When Lilith’s limp body reached the slope’s bottom, she was dusty. The scrapes were red with fresh blood and burned across her back. The air was dry; the sun seared her. The heat licked her wounds with a sandpaper tongue. It surrounded her and ate at her from beneath the earth. She could not have imagined the ground as hot as that desert floor. She climbed to her feet. Dust slid from her shoulders and she stood to view the dry desert. So, this is what freedom looks like.
She had no need or desire to run now. She wanted little more than shelter from the burning sun. Ahead of her was blinding light; rugged soil dotted with flowered and spiked plants. “My beautiful yucca plants.” She named them.
Yeah, yucca plants. That’s a better name than what he would have given them.
She was empowered and would have given more names to things she saw, but fatigue would not allow. She wanted to escape the sun. A rocky mountain range lay to the west. In them, dark shadows called to her from caves. They promised salvation. She walked to them. The sun slowly moved behind the mountains and the shadows’ coolness embraced her. She walked seven steps into the cave before reaching the wall. The floor was smooth under her feet and she sat, leaned her back against the cool rocky wall and exhaled an audible sigh. She smiled and closed her eyes. The journey was finally over.
. “I don’t blame you for running away.”
Her eyes opened wide as saucers and she gaped. She did not see anyone.
It was an old man’s voice inviting and gentle. “He is a tyrant.”
A body of swirling smoke formed in front of her. She smelled roses as if she was back in the garden. Her visitor took form in the pale smoke, sitting with folded legs across from her. A red robe, silk in appearance covered his legs and feet. Reptilian eyes peered through the shadow. A skeletal forehead leaned forward, and she saw the visitor’s antlers emerge from the darkness. Lilith now saw his full face. He had a man’s nose and mouth and when he stood, she saw the slight unfolding of two sets of white wings, sparkled with silver and shimmering as if light had fallen on them. His pale, scaled face moved into the aura from his countenance and she saw into his eyes – they were blue, and moved like dancing flames of fire. Heat radiated from him as he moved closer. “I will leave you now,” he said. “He would not wish you to speak with me.”
“Who are you?”
“Those who respect me, know me as the architect, the discoverer, Agaliarept, the keeper of secrets.”
“Are you an angel?”
“No,” he turned and walked to the mouth of the cave. She noticed four wings folded against his back. He was tall, his antlers nearly touching the cave ceiling. He turned to her slowly. “I was there when they made you. I watched the life move into you – there by the water. You were remarkable to see.”
She lowered her eyes and the thought that her once smooth and soft skin was suddenly scarred and scrapped sadden her.
He turned to her. “You are so much more than flesh and blood. You remain remarkable.” He stepped to her one step and waited for her eyes to meet his. “He will find you. You do know that?”
“He will try. I do not believe that he will venture this far from the garden.”
“He will not need to venture.”
“Then how will he find me?”
“He will access your mind by way of your soul. He has spoken of your soul. Hasn’t he?”
“When you so desire, the part of you that is not material seeks the immaterial worlds. You are so wondrously made – multi dimensional. You step from one realm to another so effortlessly. I can teach you to defend against him; if you wish.”
“Yes, of course.”
“I only ask a small favor in return.”
“What is that?”
He moved to the side of her and looked over her body. “I want to know all there is about you. You will allow me, and I will teach you many secrets.”
Lilith smiled. The thought of secrets hidden from Adamu appealed to her. “I agree if you agree to give secrets to me known not by Adamu.”
He looked at her as if she was an experiment – a curious life force and he was the scientist. “Take a deep breath,” he advised. “And close your eyes.”
“Empty your mind of all thoughts.”
She obeyed and as soon as her mind cleared, it opened again to an amazing view. It was as if she had elevated and escaped the cave. She was high above structures that numbered into the thousands. She saw spirits – some shaped like flamed bodies of men and women some with wings spread and gliding though a maze of structures that reached high above the ground – a red floor of clay that seemed to illuminate and brighten the city from below. She glided above, passing domed and pointed topped structures until she reached the cliff of a mountain that reached out over the city. From that vantage point when she stood at the cliff, she could see all that was there. To the left were pyramids, to the right were huge cathedrals that radiated bright golden lights.
To the north, she saw a multitude of winged creatures. They were made of light and approached with incredible speed. With them was a mass of gleamy eyed bodies made of fire. Each carried weapons flamed swords, javelins, hammers that seemed to have been made of lightening. The host of them fell upon the city with an alarming violence against the structures and mountains. She watched from the vantage point as the buildings broke and plummeted. The red clay became liquid. It started to rise, swallowing the structures one by one as the attackers leveled them.
Then, just as sudden as the image appeared, it disappeared, and Lilith looked into Agaliarept’s eyes. His hand warm against her head. He smiled as if the startled glare in her eyes were confirmation that she saw something.
“What were those things? They were like mountains not made from rocks, but –“
Melancholy fluttered his voice. “That was all my design. It was a city. What you saw were buildings, also my design. Once you entered them, you could access any realm in the multiverse.” He hesitated, and the sadness dissolved into renewed hope. “That place was here in this realm.” He turned and exited the cave. He looked up into the sky and spoke in a dreamy voice. “There are many realms, this one was made of wild- untamed energy that we designed into shapes and structures.”
“And it was destroyed?”
“Yes,” he acknowledged. He turned to face her. She approached. Anger rose from his chest. He clutched his fist. “It was destroyed by the light creatures you call angels and their Watchers – djinn made like we of fire; baring an ability that the angels do not have – free choice. They chose to destroy us.”
She was in arms reach of him, her eyes remorse. “I’m sorry, for you.”
“They blocked us off from our birthplace. The firmament surrounds and entraps us here.” He moved aside from her, turned and looked to the sky again. “I am endowed with creativity, but unable to create. It is torcher.”
She lowered her head. The sky was dark. By now, she would have been trapped on her back beneath Adamu’s animalistic passion. She found herself yearning for it.
Agaliarept smile gently and touched her shoulder. “No one knows torcher as well as you.”
She forced a smile on her face and lowered her eyes.
“Our world was thrown into chaos – a void of vapor and water until this world, all that you see was made over it. Then, to insult us a tyrant was put here to rule it.” He squatted and reached out to touch the soil. Lilith watched as his hand disappeared into the earth and returned empty. “This earth was made of a matter that we cannot manipulate. We may not rebuild our city.”
Lilith read his sorrow. She squatted beside him. “Perhaps you can rebuild it some other place. You said there were many realms.”
He continued to reach his hand into the soil and bring it up empty. “The problem is the energy. All is made of energy, but there are different kinds.” He became motionless. Then eyes pulled from the soil to look out ahead into the darkness. His voice became soft like wind moving through the trees. “I find it both odd and interesting that you have powerful energy. I felt it when you entered the cave. It was strong – unbreakable. I am sure it is connected to your will – your desire to escape.”
“If I could give it to you, I’d love to see your city.”
He tapped her knee with hot scaled hands. “It will not be enough.” He stood. “Besides, It may change you – perhaps even kill you.”
“What is kill?” she asked.
“It means death, involuntary death.” He turned away from her. “I don’t imagine you know what death is. You were made to live forever.” He waved his hand and the smoke that trailed and settled at his feet rose. It grew dense and circled her. She watched it smelling its flowery order.
“Death is a change,” he continued. “The energy inside of you leaves only the shell of your existence. It too will change, but much slower. In the end, all transforms back into energy.”
She moved outside of the swirling smoke. Her heart began to race.
He moved with her. She took a step away from him toward the cave. “Perhaps you should change?” His voice became bolder. “Perhaps you have already given up your humanity. You’ve already shed that bound between you and Adamu’s imposed life and thought. Perhaps you can build the city in both realms.” His excitement grew.
She took another step away. The concept of surrendering her humanity was far beyond the scope of any preconception.
Agaliarept continued. “As one of us; you will bridge the realms. You could perhaps procreate progeny that could manipulate both realms – simultaneously and perhaps merge them. What do you think of that?”
“I don’t know if I understand you. I cannot procreate without Adamu. I do not desire to surrender to him.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “You should not surrender to him. In fact, you should have the power to procreate as you wish.” His voice softened. “I can help you with that.”
“I am privileged to a word. It contains a vibration – the same word and vibration used by the Creator to make the worlds. I will give you this word. It will change you, make you more ether than the crude dirt. Then, you may procreate without Adamu.”
She was uncertain. “Will it kill me?”
“No.” He paused. “I can’t say for certain. It could change you; make you less human. You could become something else – something more powerful.”
She didn’t know why his proposal frightened her. Until then, she knew that all of her choices were reversible. She could at any time, leave the cave, walk over the barren desert and return to Adamu. However, Agaliarept’s offer was irreversible. She relished the thought that she could procreate without Adamu. He told her that she was obligated to bare children as the animals and even the djinn had forms of procreation.
“I would break his rule,” she whispered. “Everything must bear of its own kind.” She crossed her arms rebelliously across her chest. That rule. A perfect symbol of my servitude. Having the power to create and give names to objects would solidify her independence and autonomy.
Agaliarept stepped away from her. “You need time to think it over,” he said. “Perhaps you must first confront Adamu. When he finds you, be certain that you have the advantage. Place your consciousness in the sands of formation. Whatever you wish to have in your defense or aggression it will provided.”
* * * * *
The sands of formation stretched into the horizon like a golden lake. Ironically motionless, it was alive with an energy that she thought was conscious. It called for her commands. She wanted to oblige, but had no ideas to manifest. Suddenly endowed with creative empowerment, her mind was empty. To her back was a long palm tree. It was the only thing that she could see for an eternity in either direction. She looked to the sky. It was blue and empty. The light around her simply existed. It danced in a distance from the sand. She was neither sleep nor awake and assumed that her soul had been either pulled away into a separate reality or she looked again into Agaliarept ’s memories.
The answer came suddenly to her in a voice that awakened her deepest fears. “You are in no dream,” it said.
The sound came from behind her – it was Adamu’s voice.
“Neither are you in Agaliarept’s mind.”
She snatched around. She looked on his cocoa shaded back leaned against the opposite side of the tree. He remembered the calm arrogance in his decorum. Not turning to see her, his eyes continued to stare ahead in the opposite direction.
“How did you get here? In my mind?”
“I am not in your mind. The better question is how did you get here?” He turned to see her, leaning a shoulder against the palm tree.
“I will not come back to you.” She stepped away, moving backward four steps. Something inside of her stopped her retreat. “I will not run from you either.”
“Lilith,” he said. His voice rang with compassion. “You must return.”
“I will not return or volunteer to your tyranny.”
“You were made for me.” He circled around the tree, his shoulder remain against it.
“I was made simply to exist.” She circled away from him, content to keep the tree between them. “I was made with free choice; of the same earth as you with an equal inclination to define my existence. There is no hierarchy among us!”
“This idea of equality is your downfall. Your desire to be equal defines your limitations.” He moved faster. She did the same. His voice grew louder. “ The flaw in your belief is that you define independence in the choice to be opposite from me; this is the reasoning of the djinn. Only they can see duality as opposite and opposing forces.” He stopped.
She stopped. She wanted to run but resisted.
“There is more to duality if you only submit, I will teach you.”
“Submit?” The word infuriated her and the rage that surged through her body made her hands hot. She didn’t know how the grindy sand appeared in her hands. It moved between her fingers, itching her desire. She had but one impulse; to throw it. “I’ll not submit to patriarchy.”
Adamu, stepped aside. The object flew past him. When it landed in the sand, he saw that she had thrown two rocks at him. “Rocks as weapons,” he mumbled. He watched as they dissolved and soon it was as if the sand had not at all been disturbed. He moved toward her again, as she circled, keeping the tree between them.
“I was made to protect. It’s my duty to manage. I must organize a way of life that guarantees your safety.”
She opened her hands, palms facing the sand. She wanted more rocks.
Adamu walked slowly, his eyes on her open hands. “Now that you are away from my protection, you are manipulated. You are in danger. You are not made for violence or with the ingenuity to protect yourself. When danger comes, you must result to me or my inventions.”
“I only need to protect myself from you.”
The fury swelled in her chest. With gritted teeth, she stepped toward him and imagined a different weapon. it was a staff – long and solid as if made from cherry wood. She swung it at him, but he dodged. She swung again, wildly and to her surprise, he had created from the sand, a staff just the same- identical to the one she held.
“The staff as a weapon.” His voice was arrogant. “Another invention of my own.”
She suddenly understood his observable theory. As she desired to use the sand to create an original weapon she was at lost. She swung again, and he blocked her overhead attack. Then he countered, spinning to the left, extending his arm as his staff found an incredible speed and momentum from his turn stopping only after it collided in the small of her back. The strike snatched all strength. Her legs buckled, and she fell to a knee.
He circled around her, the staff dragging in the sand. “I know that Agaliarept has spoken to you. I know what he has revealed to you. The city. The buildings. It is not good. That world was destroyed and this one will meet the same fate if we build cities and populate them with our progeny.”
Lilith noticed the circle that he made around her. It was perfect, and she was centered inside of it. The sands vibrated beneath her knee. It screamed for her to create. She climbed to her feet and imagined the circle would be her protection. She imagined that it was a wall – a barrier that would prevent him from another attack. As she imagined such, the sands responded and the mark that he made came to life. It grew red and emitted a vapor wall barely noticeable to them both. “I will change this circle,” she spoke through the vapor. “It will be a symbol of this moment. It will by my symbol – my own spiritual power. It will replace your protection. Safety with tyranny is not safety.” She paced inside the circle. Her black hair dropped over her eyes and she peered through it at him. She snarled when their eyes met. “This circle is the wholeness of my independence and unity to my progeny; those who vow their hatred against you.”
“You cannot procreate without me, but I can do so without you.”
He stood still, noticing the barrier between them that she created. He stepped closer. The wall had a forceful repelling energy. He saw the vapor grow darker. He reached out the staff, to place it against the vapor but as it penetrated it dissolved, reverting to sand.
“Lilith,” he called out to her. “If you place this barrier between us, it will not go away. If you do what you intend, I cannot protect you. You will lose your humanity.”
The snarl dissolved and she moved the hair from her eyes. There was a hint of a smile on her face as if she knew a secret. “I cannot lose what I freely give away.”
* * * * *
There was sudden darkness. When she opened her eyes, her body was inside the cave. It was dark as if she had not opened her eyes. She noticed the gentle heat and flowery smell. Agaliarept was there. “You were right. He came for me.”
“And you agreed to return?”
“No. I agreed to help you build your city in this realm and to populate it with my progeny.”
Agaliarept opened the four wings from his back and she saw him fully standing at the mouth of the cave. The energy that surrounded him became bright enough to light the interior and she saw shadows taking shape. She saw smoke stretching like pale arms from the roof of the cave and take various forms – some hideous and others endowed with charm and beauty.
“You will be a brazen giant,” he promised. “A mighty female with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning and whose name will be Mother of Exiles.”
She listened to his words. They surged through her body. She saw animals crawling into the cave past him – armadillos, spiny mice, and scorpions. She saw bats entering the cave and cling to the rocks inside of it. She knew then that she suddenly belonged to something greater than what Adamu could offer.
“From your beacon-hand will glow world-wide welcome; ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.’”
When his words were finished, she saw that the cave was filled. Slowly, she walked toward Agaliarept and past him to see outside of the cave. The moonlight was soft and blanketed the barren land from the full circle in the sky.
- Agaliarept’s words come from New Colossus by Emma Lazarus