This night could last forever, I think, as I knock nervously on the door of the cathedral, the chill wind of the city’s midnight streets whistling shrilly at our backs, our skin like glass, our bones like ice, the sky moonless, starless, cold as an abandoned tomb. “Will they even give us sanctuary?” Sylvester asks. I just shrug. I hope they will, but doubt weighs heavy inside of me, a lump of dusty coal, and all certainty has gone.
“When I was a child, maybe 10 or 11,” I say, “I saw an angel tumble into our back yard, wings streaked with blood, halo cracked and rusted.” I shake my head. Sleep threatens to overtake me.
“What did you do when you saw it?” Sylvester shivers from the cold, wrapping his arms around himself.
I cough out a laugh. “I approached it slowly, nervously. I touched it’s throat gingerly, like I’d seen people do in movies. There was no pulse and it wasn’t breathing. The angel seemed to be dead.”
“Seemed to be? So it was really alive? Just sleeping or something?”
“Oh no,” I say. “It was really dead. As dead as an angel can be, I suppose.
The cathedral door opens with a loud creak like a dragon’s death rattle. A sexton with a trollish face stands in the doorway, wrapped in blankets against the windy, bitter night. “Well,” he snaps, “what do you want at this hour?”
“We seek sanctuary,” Sylvester says. “We’re being pursued.”
“By?” the sexton asks.
“Ghosts from our pasts,” I explain, “hungry for life, seeking to drown us in shadowy, misty memories.” The sexton looks unconvinced, but beckons us to enter. As soon as we cross the threshold, he slams the doors shut and locks and bolts them.
As the sexton leads us through the dark cathedral, Sylvester says, “Take that, ghosts!”