Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
There was a temple in the basement.
A simple enough place with a wooden altar, solid and sturdy, made by Adam the very day he'd purchased the house. It had been covered with a coarse linen sheet, woven by Eve, and dyed to a pleasant, golden hue. There was a chalice of red clay, also made by Eve, along with a platter and two candlestick holders. The candles had been made from the fat of a cow and Cain had learned the method from his father. One of the bones from that same beast had also been used to fashion the sacrificial knife, which Abel had honed to a fine edge and he'd carved intricate angels around the handle.
The rough walls had been decorated with sprigs and leaves and flowers, some fresh and some dried and flaking to the dirt floor. The only lighting came from the candles, the only sounds were the chanting of Cain and Abel while their father anointed a small calf in preparation for offering it to the Lord.
They were only four, the two parents and the two sons, alone in the wilderness in which they found themselves. They worshipped the One True God who had created them, surrounded by unbelievers and heathens, the unclean. It was a difficult existence and all the more so since Adam and his wife Eve could still remember the Garden where they'd first lived, before Eve's sin had caused the Lord to cast them out of Eden. Now they found themselves in this ... place.
"I hate Seattle," Abel decided, washing dishes while his brother dried and put each one carefully away. Abel was 19 and had just started college, but he found it a chore because it took time away from his devotions to the Lord.
"It's not so bad. You just need to get out more," Cain replied. At 22, he'd graduated from the University the year before with a degree in sociology and now worked as a bouncer at a strip club near the airport.
"Father told me I should start looking for a wife," Abel said. "They're all heathens though! These women, they worship idols and paint their faces like they're trying to be angels."
Cain laughed. "Yeah, they do all of that," he grinned at his younger brother, "and then some."
"They're unclean." Abel looked up at Cain's face. "I don't see anything funny about it."
"You pray too much," Cain said with a shake of his head.
"And you don't pray enough," Abel retorted, pulling the drain and rinsing his hands. "God's unhappy with you."
"I was talking to God just the other day, he didn't seem pissed." Cain grabbed the last plate, drying it slowly. "Why, did he say something to you?"
"Well, not exactly," Abel allowed. "But I can tell."
"Pffft..." Cain exhaled. "Yeah right."
Upstairs Adam fingered the corded whip in his hands.
"Bend over, wife. It's time now." He stood naked and his hardness ached at the thought of performing this service to the Lord.
"Yes, husband," Eve whispered.
She was very old, but her lithe form moved gracefully onto the bed. She looked only a few years older than she had when God had created her, despite the many hardships and bearing two strong boys for her husband. She had blonde hair and bright blue eyes, her skin shone pale and unblemished but for the scars across her back and thighs.
The Lord had decreed that she would never know Adam again as a wife should, but only as a harlot, an unclean sinner. Her husband whipped her nightly while she prayed and then he would sodomize her roughly, taking his pleasure from her anus like a beast. She thanked her God that at least He had not denied her the pleasure that accompanied such debasement. She'd blamed the serpent at first, but now after a thousand centuries of painful humiliation, Eve knew that it had been she alone who had sinned mightily before the Lord. She deserved her punishments and eagerly accepted them.
The heavy slap of the leather whip, damp with perspiration and blood, echoed through the house and was soon joined by the high pitched wail of Eve's supplications and the low grunts of Adam's efforts.
Cain laughed and clapped his brother on the back, "Mother is singing again ... Oh glory to God, the Lord and the Light..."
The young man's singing was poor at best and Abel sighed, wondering why his brother felt the need to add his voice to that of their mother's. He sensed that Cain was mocking the ritual and it deeply saddened him.
"Good morning, Abel. Where is your brother?" Eve asked as she served their usual simple breakfast of fruits and fresh cream, with toasted homemade bread.
"I'm here, Mother." Cain walked into the small kitchen and Adam joined them for their morning prayer, thanking the Lord for the new day and the food on the table.
Adam worked at a local nursery as a florist. He had a passion for orchids and people were amazed at his skill with raising the difficult plants. He tried to explain on occasion that he'd once lived in the Garden of Eden, which had been full of orchids, and it had pleased the Lord to give Adam a certain empathy with them. But most people didn't seem to understand.
Eve had opened her own restaurant, called simply 'The Garden' and it had become quite the little success, largely due to the popularity of thematic entertainment in general. All of her waiters and waitresses walked around in skimpy uniforms resembling fig leaves, and the atmosphere was very lush and tropical. Ribs were the house specialty and the apple pie was simply the best in all of Seattle. Eve would have been quite proud of it, but she'd been to the real Garden. Besides, she would remind herself, pride was a grievous sin. It was enough to be on the cover of last month's Pacific Cuisine.
"Hello Abel," hers was a soft voice, different from any other, and it made the young man look up from his notes.
Abel expected to see another one of the whores who attended the university; women who dressed obscenely, painted their lips and eyes, and promised their bodies with every gesture. But this woman was different, he could sense it, she was one of the humans made in God's own image.
"Hello," Abel replied and he looked at her carefully from where he sat in the shade of a large tree. She had a tall, stern posture, a creamy complexion and long black hair. Her face possessed a remarkable beauty touched with sadness, he thought, some joyless shadow lurking behind her brown eyes and pouting lips. She wore no cosmetics, no jewelry, and her dress was simple and covered the girl from her delicate neck to her ankles. Even the sleeves were long, reaching to her wrists.
"May I sit with you?" She did not smile, as the man might have expected, instead she merely stared at him.
"Yes, you may." He watched her fold her legs gracefully, until she sat demure and silent beside him. "Are you an angel?" Abel asked, using the true meaning of the word, which is a Messenger of God.
"I have come to tell you, Abel, the Lord is pleased by your devotion. He would have you make a sacrifice to him, upon the noon sun after the next full moon."
"And what will I offer my Lord?"
"He has not told me. It's to be your offering alone, and so I cannot advise you." She did smile then, barely, and it caused a strange confusion in the boy's heart. "I will leave you now."
"No," Abel said suddenly, without really meaning to. "I ... I would have you stay. Please, for a moment?" He looked in the woman's eyes until he had to turn away.
"I will stay for a moment, if you wish it."
"Will you tell me your name also?"
"I'm called Lilith."
Abel frowned briefly, wondering perhaps if he hadn't heard such a name before. "Lilith," he repeated, enjoying the way it felt upon his lips.
"I will go now; I have other duties to perform." The beautiful woman rose. "Perhaps..." she started to say, and then pursed her lips, looking away.
"Yes?" Abel couldn't bear the silence with that one word hanging between them.
"Perhaps you will remember me, tonight."
"In my prayers? Yes! Of course," he promised, and he found his heart lifting almost painfully at the thought.
"And after, sweet Abel?" She turned around, without waiting for a response the man couldn't find.
The Bodyshop was typical of the strip clubs in Seattle. The girls were all heathens and whores; the men who came to witness their lustful depravity were Sodomites, each and every one. They were unbeliever's and born without souls, but Cain enjoyed their revelries all the same. He'd even coupled with several of the harlots, knowing that they were merely animals and subservient. He'd consumed their alcohol and tobacco, partaken in excesses of the flesh, and poisoned his sensibilities with sin.
"Hello Cain," her voice cut beneath the music like a razor and ripped open the man's heart. Cain had been speaking with a blonde dancer named Cherry when his head turned in unconscious response.
"Hey, what do you think you're..." Cherry began to protest, seeing only a beautiful young woman, some Goth bitch, moving in on her man. Cain was handsome, like Abel, as they were created in God's image and perfect. All the women wanted him, but tonight he was Cherry's. He'd promised!
The woman put a finger to her lips. "Shhhh..." and Cherry's voice died, though her lips moved and her eyes went wide.
Cain glanced at Cherry and then stared hard at the woman standing near him, with her pale skin and black hair, penetrating brown eyes and the hint of a smile upon her lips. She was one of them, he knew, a person created by God and given dominion over the earth and everything upon it.
"Who..." he started to ask, but she cut him off.
"The Lord our God is unhappy, Cain. He has sent me to tell you this."
.... There is more of this story ...