"you have got to be fucking kidding me." Tate looked back at the woman's body on the table and took a step away. The girl was beautiful, he'd admit that. Her blond hair almost formed a halo around her head, framing her beautiful, angelic, face.
"Qué mujer tan hermosa!*" Juanleaned closer to the angel.
"this is bull shit. I drank from one of them." Tate insisted.
"they are only part angel, corporeal beings. I'm not sure of Liah's parentage, but one of the girls...Pip. she is at least half, if not more, Angel." Don told him.
"what the hell Don? You hand selected these women to be fucking food. Now your telling me you knew the whole time they were fucking angels?"
"they volunteered." Don had the brains to look ashamed. "that's not important right now," he insisted shaking his ghostly head. "we have to find the rest of those girls!"
"no shit." Tate was ready to start snapping heads off.
"dude, watch your mouth." Juan nodded towards the girl. "she's an angel." Tate growled.
"she is not in there." Don told them.
"no? Where is she?" Juan looked truly interested.
"the void." Don looked up towards the ceiling. "the grate beyond." Tate followed his ghostly friends gaze but saw only the ceiling of the morgue.
"I thought angels went to heaven." Juan said, craning his neck to try and see whatever it was Don was seeing.
"the girls are only part angel, and thus can only enter the kingdom through portals in their physical form. Since her body is here she must have slipped into the void...I think it is also called Purgatory." Don said offhandedly still looking upward. He shook his head and looked back to Tate. "something bad is happening if these girls are leaving their physical behind, risking being stuck in purgatory..." he was shaking his head, sorrow showing on his wispy gray face.
"Commander?" a solder's head popped into the room. Tate turned to him, brows raised. "your chopper leaves in five." Tate nodded his understanding and the solder left.
"we have to find them Tate." Done insisted again.
"i intend to."
*Juan said "what a beautiful woman"
"where was Liah found?" Tate demanded of the man standing closest to him.
" Three clicks north, sir." Tate took the offered map noting the red X, he studied it for a moment. "look here." he pointed to a symbol that would be only a few feet from where the girl's body had been. There was an r in a circle, meaning restricted. "what is here?"
"i believe it is a cave system, sir." Tate nodded to himself, thinking. "sir?"
"is it possible she was headed there?"
"trying to hide?" the solder pondered the idea as well. "how would she have know it was there?"
"i don't know, but it is worth a look. Juan, Cooper!" the other men came trotting over.
"got something Tate?"
"maybe, there is a cave about three clicks north of here, I want to check it out." the other men nodded and began barking orders.
The entrance of the cave was nothing more than a small hole in the rock. "well hell." Cooper looked down, dejected. "that's going to be one tight squeeze." Tate began stripping off his gear, handing Juan his guns and Kevlar vest. He kicked off his boots and pulled off his bulky cameo suit, stripping down to his boxer-briefs.
"i don't think that is safe." Juan told him. Tate gave a huff of laughter as he began shimmying his lower half through the hole.
"I'm a fucking vampire, what is going to happen?" Juan and Cooper looked at each other and shrugged. "that's what I thought. if I 'm not back by tomorrow use some damn c4 and blow the sucker open to get me out." his friends agreed as Tate's head disappeared.
The cave wasn't at all what Tate had been expecting. When sliding into the tiny entrance Tate had expected dripping walls with spears of stone hanging from the roof, bats taking wing to feed from millions of creepy crawly bugs.
The cavern was open and dry with a solid rock floor and a few scattered pebbles that he kicked at. "you OK Tate?" Juan called.
"fine." he shouted back. His voice echoed off the solid rock walls. "toss me a light." a flashlight was tossed down and Tate caught it with ease. The beam of light showed that this main cavern opened at the back "there is a tunnel here, I'm going to check it out."
"careful Tate." Juan warned. Tate scoffed as he headed to investigate. The air in the tunnel changed, it grew almost denser. If it were still necessary for him to breath Tate would have felt concerned at the pressure that was suddenly pushing against his chest. The beam of his light hit something a few feet ahead. Tate froze. It looked like a doorway, but it was translucent, shimmering blue, and moving.
"what the hell?" he stepped closer and it grew less transparent. he was sure if he reached out his hand he would go right through it. Another step and the damn thing moved again, like sheer fabric in the wind. The pale blue undulated and darkened, he could swear there was s figure standing just beyond the threshold. "hello?" he called out.
There was no reply, who ever was standing there didn't move. Tate took another tentative step towards the portal. He was almost sure that was what this was. It had to be a portal of some kind, but where would a portal in a cave in the middle of the wood lead?
The figure on the other side moved then, turning towards Tate. He didn't move, not sure if they could see him at all. "hello?" he heard a soft feminine voice say, but it wasn't out loud. "who's there?" the voice demanded, in his mind.
"my name is Tate Bradly, I'm with the United States military. I am on a rescue mission to find..." what to say? Tate had no idea who or what he was speaking to, how could he admit to trying to rescue kidnapped angels? "I'm looking for four women who disappeared in these parts. "Pip, Liah, Tavia, and Mary. Do you know them?"
"Pip?" the voice asked. "you are looking for Pip?"
"do you know her?"
"don't move!" the voice was firm, no longer the wispy sound bouncing in his head but a commanding force. The figure retreated into the blue beyond, leaving Tate standing there in wounder. Tate began to think perhaps he'd gone insane.
First there were the crazy dreams that had him chasing Pip through the wood and left him feeling more tired than he'd been when he went to bed. Now he was standing in a cave talking to a voice in his head and staring at something that couldn't possibly be before him... in nothing but his underwear.
There was movement then, the portal shifted and swayed more fiercely than it had before. The whirling blue deepened to a dark midnight nearly black. Tate didn't have time to register what was happening before a figure came hurtling head first out of the abyss, straight into his arms.