The Angels Must Die - Chapter 1.1


part 1

An apartment in New Orleans, on the morning of March 27

This morning, Raymond Schneider awoke to a suffocating sensation. An emptiness close to pain squeezed his chest.

This is difficult, he mumbled. From an early age, he was used to fasting. But now, his body slowly hit the limit.

It was hard for Raymond to stand up. He barely got up from the bed and lowered his feet slightly. He was being especially careful as he had collapsed from malnutrition several times in the past.

He reached the kitchen one step at a time, grabbing the air with his hands. Having no strength at all, Raymond grabbed the refrigerator's handle and opened the door with the last bit of strength remaining in his skinny body.

It was empty inside without even needing to look. There wasn't even a bottle of ketchup. He already drank the water he had put in a few days ago. Staring blankly at the refrigerator lamp, which shone so annoyingly bright, Raymond murmured.

“…Ah, yes…I know.”

The empty refrigerator was not likely would suddenly full of food this morning unless some kind dwarfs had come and refilled it while Raymond was asleep. Raymond was not a Snow White. He did not have even a single roommate, let alone seven dwarfs to take care of him. A story like a Disney movie did not exist in reality.

No matter how much he looked at the refrigerator, he couldn't change it. Raymond slammed the refrigerator door, humming a Disney animated song, and stumbled into the bathroom. As the hunger continued, his head did not move properly. His consciousness was foggy like a mist.

How many times has this happened this year?

Unknowingly, he spat out harsh words. "…Damn it. Why can't we have anything in this world for free?"

It's an unreasonable world. Raymond did not believe the apostles anymore now, but he could agree with one thing. This world is rotten and dirty.

When Raymond was seven years old, he was rescued from 'The Only Pure and Righteous Church of the Children of God'.

All this time, the memories of his terrible days at the cult were sealed deep inside. If not, it would have been slowly eating his life and breaking everything. No doubt, eighteen years seemed like a long time, but in a sense, it was only a short moment.

Raymond got to the bathroom and stared into the sink mirror. The man looking at Raymond in the mirror had long blond hair, lake-blue eyes, and shriveled cheeks.

He disliked that weak face, no matter how much others adored it. They said his face was the 'pretty' type. The people Raymond met always said the same thing and praised him. "You look like an angel."

―Yet for him, this face was the source of all his misfortunes.

However, he was grateful his beard won't grow. No hassle to shave, and above all, he didn't have to spend unnecessary money on shaving lotions.

Raymond looked in the mirror and asked, “Why do you look awful? You're pale. Haven't you eaten anything?"

The mirror couldn't answer, of course, so he gave himself a pitiful one.

“Ah, yes. I haven't eaten anything since the day before yesterday. Last thing I ate...maybe a piece of soggy cookie?”

He had cherished it a lot. Cookies with nuts sent by Daniel.

From the time he lived in the church with him―Is he a she now? Daniel changed his name to 'Princess Barbara'―they got along very well. She was very fond of Raymond, the youngest of the comrades. In her letters, Barbara often said, "You were the one who helped me in my difficult times," even though Raymond didn't feel that way. For him, it was the opposite. Since she was still a 'Daniel', she was the one who always cared the most about the others, and the only one who still kept in touch with Raymond. Every time she sent a letter, she would also include cookies and candies in it.

Raymond's mouth was watering at the thought of food. Anything is fine, he just wanted to put chewable food into his stomach. He wanted to free the screaming impatient stomach from the pain.

What should I do? Should I call Barbara to tell her I can't move because I'm hungry? She changes her address frequently, but I'm sure it was New Orleans where she recently sent her letters.

She might be living nearby now.

Whether she's being gay or anything, as long as Barbara living a decent life, it's fine. Better than Raymond, who was stuck at home and struggled with no food to eat day by day.

Barbara was soft-hearted. Each time Raymond told his difficulties on the phone, she would always send him something to eat. But he didn't want to do that now.

However, thinking about the other comrades, whom he had such a strong bond with, had yet to respond to Raymond's letter. Until last year, Paul still replied to him, but not anymore now.

Everyone did. They cut off their contact without a goodbye.

Still, Raymond couldn't blame them. He couldn't be a kid forever. Raymond, the youngest, was already twenty-five, and the others were already over thirty. It was not surprising if they had started a family.

Raymond was crooked and not well adapted to society. He lived like a dead man, but he wanted the others to be happy. They were all really good brothers. Yes, he was kidnapped and suffered pain, but Raymond was originally abandoned by his mother. Had he stayed outside, he might have starved to death long before the cult abducted him.

So he sincerely thanked the apostles for giving him food, keeping him alive, and allowing him to meet his comrades.

Then there was a loud bang on the door.

“Schneider! Are you inside? You've delayed the rent by two months now. Pay the rent, please!”

Oh, God! It's the grandma landlord! Raymond immediately covered his ears.

The old woman's hoarse voice continued.

“Are you listening? Open the door, Schneider! I'm sick of doing this all the time."

Raymond covered his ears and crouched down. He thought he was pathetic enough, but surprisingly, he didn't want anyone to see him die yet. Or perhaps this was just his spontaneous reaction. His mother, Sharon, used to yell often. Little Ramond would just shrivel his body like now.

He has to make money. Soon. Or Raymond will be kicked out of the apartment at this rate. The apartment that Lisa found for him.

This apartment was a very pleasant home minus the landlord's banging on the door. It was only a few blocks from the boulevard, so just a few people pass by. An old and lonely apartment. But it was the perfect hideout for Raymond, a hermit. The rent was also cheap. It was the most reassuring home Raymond have ever lived in.

A thought suddenly crossed Raymond's mind. Maybe...he should sell the large TV that didn't fit this old apartment. But that idea was quickly dismissed. Doing such a thing will be disrespectful to Lisa, the one who gave him the TV. And TV was just like food, the thing he couldn't live without.

The old woman eventually gave up. She spat out some lines before going back.

“I'll be back tomorrow! Make sure to get your money ready!”

Raymond sighed in relief, loosening his shoulders. This time, he barely passed. God, thank you, he muttered in a small voice.

When he was still in that church, Raymond was forced to always say thanks. However, as he got older, it naturally just slipped out of his mouth. He could not affirm that he believed in the existence of God, but he guessed maybe it was time for him to want to believe in God.

“Ah… I better get ready to find a job now...”

Although a few job offers came in the past, they were not an amount enough to live on. Sure, there was also an option to starve to death since Raymond had no regret in this world but he was too afraid to face the afterlife. Raymond was a human being who had been abandoned by his own mother, yet he managed to live off the kindness of the others. If he died in a place like this, he would have no regard for the people who helped him so far.

Raymond was determined. He moved his trembling steps along the wall to the closet, took the Xanax bottle out of the drawer, and pour a pill into his palm. He wanted to turn it into beer if possible, but alcohol long ago disappeared from the refrigerator before food.

Raymond walked to the sink and drank from the faucet. He was tired and drowsy no matter what he did. An empty stomach destroys a person's brain and body. Indeed, he was used to it from a very young age, but he just couldn't help it.

Patting his cheeks as if to cheer himself up, Raymond said, “Let’s work hard today!” Then dragged his heavy body to the side of the bed to reach for his phone.

A phone that he would never pick up if someone ever called him because he was just too scared to talk on the phone. He only dared to call one number out of the few he had saved there.

Raymond laughed at himself at how selfish he was.