Wind howled and rain splattered against Hedwig van Sweiten’s bedroom window. She finished braiding her long blond hair, and peered out at the night. The storm had come up fast, too fast. It wasn’t natural. It was as if she was on some desolate sea coast rather than 1743 Vienna. She walked to her dressing table.
Glass cracked, wood splintered, the light from the oil lamp flickered. Hedy spun. The window was gone and a huge wolf with glowing red eyes bounded toward her. She swiveled and roundhouse kicked it off to the side. The wolf slammed into the wall and sprang back. Hedy hit it with a right cross and knocked it to the ground. It jumped to its feet and stared at her.
Hedy’s fists were up, and her cheeks flushed. “I’m done messing with you. Leave now and I won’t call my dogs.” The giant wolf glared at her with glowing red eyes. She stared back with her steady blue. The wolf exploded off the floor and Hedy caught it by the throat.
“You asked for it.” She threw it across the room. “Donner, Blitz!” Nails clattered against wood and two miniature dachshunds charged into the room. One dachshund was red with a white lightning shaped slash on it’s chest, the other, black and tan. She made a sweeping gesture. “Get him out of here.” The little dogs touched noses and their eyes glowed blue.
Hedy straightened her braid, walked to her wardrobe and opened the door. You’re in for a surprise, Mr. Wolf.
Donner and Blitz moved forward, their glowing blue eyes locked on the wolf. The wolf sprang. Lightning arced from Blitz’s jaws and blasted it back against the wall. Hedy smelled singed fur and smiled. Donner and Blitz herded the giant back to the demolished window.
Sister Adelbert, Hedwig’s quasi chaperone, called through the gap in the door. “Freiin van Sweiten. Are you alright?”
“I’m fine Sister,” Hedy answerd, pulling on a blue gown with a white bodice. “There’s a giant wolf in here so don’t come in, yet. Donner and Blitz are just getting rid of it.” She turned to the wolf. “This is your last chance dog. Disappear now, or we’ll hunt you down and hand you back to Satan as a pelt.” The wolf’s eyes shifted slowly from Hedy, to Donner, Blitz, and back again. Hedy raised an eyebrow and shook her head but the wolf lunged.
Blitz opened his mouth and lightning arced from his jaws, Donner’s mouth opened and the roar of thunder hit the cursed cur like a solid wall of sound. The wolf disappeared through the jagged hole into the dark city.
“You can come in now, Sister,” called Hedy. “The wolf’s gone. Good boys.” She motioned the dogs to her side and patted them. Sister Adelbert entered dressed in her robe and night cap.
“My goodness, Freiin van Sweiten we’ve got to get this hole blocked. All this rain will ruin your beautiful home.” She pulled the heavy curtains across the opening and tried to keep them from billowing inward.
“I expect the storm will calm now, Sister. I think it was all for effect.” As Hedy spoke the curtains stopped billowing and the sound of rain lessened. The nun pulled a curtain to the side and peered through the gap.
“Yes, I believe you’re right. I’ll get this water cleaned up and fetch the carpenters in the morning.” She looked up from the puddle. “Are you going out?”
“I’m afraid so,” Hedy replied. “Would you please fasten the buttons on the back of my gown? The boys and I have to find that wolf. I gave him the chance to go back to Hell on his own. But now it looks like I’m going to have to deliver him to Satan in person.”
Hedy pulled her braid over her shoulder.
“You think the wolf came from Hell?” Sister asked, buttoning her gown
Hedy nodded. I’m pretty certain.” She sat down and put on a pair of ankle high black boots. She threw a blue hooded cloak over her shoulders and fastened it around her neck. “Come on boy’s. I want to catch that beast before he does anymore damage.”
“Take care, Frein van Sweiten. Remember, you’re not invincible.”
“I know, Sister.” Hedy lit a candle from her bedside lamp and led the nun and the dogs to the back door. “We should be back before dawn.”
“I’ll have this mess cleaned up and hot coffee and fresh rolls when you return.”
Hedy handed Sister the candle, opened the door and stepped out into the dark rainy night.
The flickering candle illuminated the nun’s face. “God be with you, Freiin van Sweiten.”
“Thank you, Sister. I promise we’ll be careful.” Hedy glanced down at her dachshunds. “Ok boys, find the wolf.” The little dogs sniffed the air, touched noses and ran toward the courtyard’s open gate. Hedy pulled the hood of her cloak up and followed.
Angels swooped down from the cloudy sky like giant luminous birds. They landed on rooftops, perched on ledges and watched through windows as their charges slept. Some guided the souls of the newly departed to their final judgement. While others guarded the entryways to homes and searched for lost souls.
To most people this would seem impossible. But to me it’s normal. Hedy thought. How many 18 year old girls talk to God? Well, I guess anyone can talk to You, but how many do You answer back? She took a few steps. And how many have a relic they wear around their necks that lets them see angels, or, allows them to channel Your limitless power? It all started with a choice my Mother made the day I was born. Well, I guess I got to choose too. She sighed and looked at the cloudy sky and the angels watching over humanity. I’m definitely not a saint. . . I’m just the girl You chose to save the human race.
The howl of a wolf echoed in the darkness. Donner and Blitz started to run. Here I go again. Hedy raced after the dachshunds past her favorite coffeehouse, the House Under the Blue Bottle. She ran through Vienna’s narrow, rain soaked streets until the buildings around her opened into a large square. At it’s end, Saint Stephan’s Cathedral. Its patterned roof, and huge jutting South spire hi-lighted by moon beams streaming through gaps in the cloudy sky.
Lucifer emerged from the shadows followed by the wolf. “I couldn’t have made it more obvious. What took you so long?”
Hedy’s footsteps echoed off the silent buildings as she walked up to face him. She dropped her hood and looked him in the eye. “Venus as the morning star. That’s what your name means.” She pursed her lips. “You’re handsome, just as I remember.” Lucifer was dressed in black except for a scarlet red waistcoat. His eyes were also black as was his hair which was fastened with a tie.
“But then again, looks are so superficial,” added Hedy.
“You on the other hand are big boned and ugly.” Satan answered. He circled her and the dogs. “Yet what you did to Azazel… he was one of my most formidable demons. Still…”
Hedy pivoted to keep him in view. “Why are you here? Why did you send that mutt to my house?”
Lucifer smiled. “To lead you away from it.” He flicked a finger and reality pulled away like a curtain revealing Sister Adelbert trussed and hanging head down over the cobblestones. “I wanted to get the dear sister alone. It was easier with you out of the way.”
Hedy rushed forward but Lucifer stopped her with a glance. “You’re not dealing with a mere underling now you worthless bag of flesh. Give it to me,” he sneered. “Or, Sister goes to Hell for all eternity.”
There was only one thing he could mean. The relic. The conduit that allowed her to channel the power of God. “You may have dominion over Hell,” replied Hedy. But only God decides who’s sent there.”
“Then you’ll just have to stop me.” Lucifer twisted his hand and Sister groaned.
Hedy raised her arm but nothing happened. She was helpless. She looked down at Donner and Blitz. They were as unmoving as statues. Sister’s eyes bulged, her body convulsed and she vomited.
God? Hedy asked silently. There was no reply.
“I can do more,” threatened Lucifer.
“No.” Hedy’s eyes went wide, she shook her head. “No, don’t do any more. I couldn’t stand it. Me. Take me in Sister’s place. I beg you.” She dropped to her knees and stared at him beseechingly.”
“You won’t give me the relic?”
Lucifer moved to her prostrate figure and removed her cloak. “Then I’ll just take it.” He reached toward the relic’s chain around her neck and a spark leapt to his fingers. He jerked his hand away and stepped back. Hedy’s eyes were glowing like blue embers. “Your eyes? What’s wrong with your eyes?”
Hedy shook her head. “There’s nothing wrong with my eyes.” She looked up to Heaven. “I just got the answer I was waiting for.” She leaped to her feet and twitched her index finger. Lucifer was flung across the square into the cathedral. The demon wolf charged, but Donner and Blitz opened their mouths and attacked with lightning and thunder. It fell to the ground in a smoking a heap. Lucifer sprang to his feet, glanced at Sister and twisted his hand. The Nun screamed. Hedy lifted her arm, and a dark chasm opened at the Devil’s feet.
“You! How can you do this?” screamed the Prince of Darkness.
Hedy pointed to the wolf, it disappeared into the void. She focused on Lucifer. “It’s not just me.” Hedy felt the relic pulse. “Now go back to Hell where you belong!”
She made a grasping motion and Lucifer was snatched from the ground.
“This isn’t the end!” Satan screamed.”
She opened her hand and dropped him into the dark pit as if he were a piece of garbage. Hedy flicked her finger and the opening vanished. She rushed to Sister and knelt beside her. “Are you alright?”
Sister peered up at Hedy with tired eyes. “I’ll never get used to this, Freiin van Sweiten. First it was Azazel, now it’s Satan himself. It’s never dull around you is it?”
She gathered her cloak and wrapped it around the nun. “I told you it would be this way.”
“I know.” Sister paused. “But it certainly makes the battle between good and evil real.”
“It does, Sister. Now let’s go home, I think we both could use a good strong cup of coffee.”