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."
"I'm at the Lord's mercy," Cain replied, feeling his heart swell as he looked at the angel. "Tell me how I may please him."
"The Lord requires an offering, a sacrifice upon an altar of your construction at noon of the first day of the full moon."
"And what shall I sacrifice to our Lord?" Cain licked his lips.
"I do not know. Your offering is your sign and yours alone, I cannot advise you in such things." She looked at him intently for a long moment, seeming oblivious to their surroundings, and then the woman turned to leave.
"Wait! Please, what's your name?" Cain reached out as if to grab her arm, but instead his fingertips brushed only the cool linen of her simple dress.
"I'm called Lilith." She stared at him, smiling with a tempting mixture of modesty and amusement. "Why do you stay in this place?"
"I'm just a shepherd."
Lilith smiled at that and started to turn away once more, but Cain's voice stopped her.
The dancer, Cherry, tugged at his arm, her lips moving uselessly as she still tried to speak. He shrugged her off, unable to look away from Lilith.
"I've never seen a real woman before. I..." Cain suddenly felt deep shame for being in that place. "I would like to speak with you."
"Would you pray with me, Cain?" she asked with a sad smile.
He swallowed nervously and nodded. "If you would like me to. Yes. Of course."
"Then we shall see." The angel closed her eyes and one corner of her mouth lifted. "Goodnight, dear Cain." Lilith turned and left him watching her until she'd disappeared out the doors.
That evening Abel did indeed remember Lilith in his prayers. He remembered her smile and the way the wind had moved her hair, so that just a strand of it had caught in her eyes. He remembered her voice and her movements, and in the remembering Abel felt his manhood stirring.
It was not unwelcome and the young man felt no shame in it. God himself had commanded that they should be fruitful and multiply. But he did nothing else. To stain his hand with the seed of life was a wasteful sin; it led to lust and jealousy, envy and greed. He'd indulge none of that for his heart was pure.
Even so, during the night as he slept Lilith crept into his dreams and Abel found himself once more upon that soft green lawn. Her scent wafted on the breeze and it stirred him. When she moved closer, he did not resist, but opened himself to her smile. He took her, as a man might take his wife, possessing her body as only a man who is dreaming can.
When Abel awoke he was embarrassed to find he had stained his bed sheets. He was damp and sticky and he saw this as a weakness. He'd been tempted to speak of the angel with his parents, to express his thoughts that perhaps he'd found a wife. A believer and not a harlot, someone who could provide children to worship the Lord.
But now he felt ashamed of his interest in her. Of his lack of patience and faith. He washed himself and remade his bed, lest his mother discover what had happened and be equally shamed. He could not speak of Lilith now, he knew. Not until he had cleansed that part of him that had betrayed his devotion to God.
Cain had not slept in his bed. He'd found himself in Cherry's apartment, listening to the whore whine about losing her voice for almost three full hours. He finally shut her up with a well aimed thrust of his aching manhood between her lips. But always that night, no matter how he used the bestial woman, Cain imagined it was Lilith beneath him.
She was not an animal like Cherry, he knew. Lilith was human. And so she would be his wife, his devoted mate as God had intended for all of his creations. Even the lowest dog could find a mate. Around him these people, who were so much less than that really, had spouses and children. Why not himself?
"Lilith," he sighed, pressing his erection between the plump, excited folds of Cherry's sex.
"Huh?" She looked up at her lover, trying to understand what he was saying.
But Cain merely ignored her. Girls like Cherry were only slightly better than masturbation, the man thought, and only because it made less of a mess for him to clean up when he'd finished.
"Hey, can we swing by the river?" Abel asked, sitting beside Cain in his brother's truck. They were on their way to Snoqualmie to get some wood.
"What?" Cain frowned at the interruption. He'd been thinking of Lilith and paying little attention to anything else...
"I need to stop by the river and get some clay."
"Why don't you just go to Henderson's?" Cain wondered, meaning an arts and crafts store close to the University.
"Because, I need to get it myself," Abel paused, not really wanting to explain why.
"What for?" Cain asked suspiciously because he knew his brother pretty well and Abel was hiding something.
"I need to make an offering to God." Able looked at his brother. "Can you keep a secret?"
"Sure. Hell yeah," Cain said with a shrug, knowing it would annoy the younger man.
"Don't swear. I met someone. A girl ... A real girl."
"What?" Cain jerked the steering wheel and they almost went into the ditch. "What, uh ... What's her name?"
"Lilith." Abel smiled as he said it.
"Tall girl? Thin, pretty face, big tits?" Cain glanced at his brother.
"Yeah, well, something like that," Abel allowed slowly, though he didn't care for the phrasing. "She's an angel. She told me I had to make an offering unto the Lord."
"Why? Do you know her?"
"Well ... Uh, she comes into the club, you know," Cain said with a careless grin.
"Yeah, she's a big tipper." Cain loved pissing his brother off. "Got a lap dance from Cherry the other day. Shut that bitch right up! I gotta tell ya, bro..." He looked at Abel and put on a pained expression of sympathy. "You're angel ... She's a carpet cleaner."
"A ... What?" Abel stared at Cain in disbelief.
"A rug muncher, you know ... A lesbian." Cain shrugged. "That was a sin, last time I checked."
"So is lying!" Abel glared at him.
"Who's lying here?" Cain gave Abel a dirty look.
Abel just stared.
"Okay, okay ... sheesh ... She came in and said God wants more stuff, like He ain't got enough dead sheep already."
"And what? I said sure ... What does he want, but she didn't know... 'It's your sign... ' she says, and so I says, look Lily, it's a five dollar cover, pay up or get out."
"You did not!" Abel shook his head.
"Nah..." Cain laughed and actually got his brother to smile, just a little. "I wanted to bone her too bad to say that, bro!"
"Well, you can't do ... that," Abel said definitively.
"Yeah. I'm going marry that woman." Abel folded his arms across his chest and smiled. "I love her."
"Well, I love her too. So maybe you should buy a dog or something."
"Maybe you should watch the road!" Abel grabbed the steering wheel and yanked it hard over so that they narrowly missed two people on bicycles.
"Aww ... Who cares. They're not even human."
"Yeah, but God doesn't like roadkill. Didn't you get the memo?"
"Yeah, I got it. He's thinking about adding Thou Shalt Not Kill to the six commandments, but that doesn't apply to animals, does it?"
"I don't know, but..."
Cain snapped his fingers, interrupting Abel's thought. "I got it!"
"You got what?"
"This Lilith business. God sends this foxy hot to trot angel, right? Saying we each gotta make an offering, but He doesn't tell us what and he don't tell us why, see?"
"Right, right," Abel nodded. "So?"
"So ... It's a test. It's a contest."
"What?" Abel snorted. "What kind of contest is that?"
"It's a 'Best Offering Gets the Girl' contest!" Cain grinned. "Don't ya get it? God's giving us a woman, a real believer to be fruitful and do the math with!"
"Ohhhh ... I don't know about that." Abel shook his head. "She didn't look like that sort of girl."
"What sort?" His brother laughed. "Shit! She's probably been looking for a husband as long as we've been looking for wives, man!"
"Hell, she probably won a contest of her own, just so she could be the prize in this one! It all makes sense!"
"Yeah, mmm ... maybe. God does have a sense of humor about stuff like that."
"Hey, uh ... Abel ... So what are you offering?"
"Oh..." He turned his head, looking out the window. "A little of this, a little of that, you know."
They were quiet for minute before Abel turned to look at his brother.
"What are you offering?"
Cain shrugged. "I don't know yet." He gave his brother a sideways glance. Whatever it was going to be, Cain thought, it's gonna be better than yours, bro!
"Good morning, Abel." Lilith stood a few feet away, once more on the soft green grass of the college campus.
Behind her the morning sun was still low in the eastern sky, and Abel could see the effect it had, turning her simple linen shift into something soft and gauzy, outlining her naked form beneath. He swallowed nervously as he could just make out the swell of her sex between her slightly spread thighs before he looked away.
"Hello Lilith," he said softly.
It had been nearly a fortnight since their first meeting. Abel had dreamt of her every night. Sometimes with passionate visions that aroused his senses to such a state that he'd awoken sweating and breathless and unable to sleep again. Other times it had been soft and subtle, a caress upon his sleeping form and he would rise in the morning expecting to find the woman beside him.
"Do you think of me? After your prayers, Abel?" She sat down unbidden and folded her long legs beneath her slender form.
The young man glanced up, sharply, wondering if she mocked him.
"Or, have you forgotten me so soon?" Lilith lowered her own face as if that were something she'd expected. Her tone was not humorous, sarcastic, or knowing. It was lonely.
"No." His heart softened immediately. "No, I haven't forgotten. Every night for me is a torment." He paused, tilting his head. "I've done more than think of you, Lilith. I have dreamt of you in ... many ways. Unclean ways. Forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive, dear Abel." She was looking down, her delicate fingers weaving dandelions into a braid. "I too have ... dreamt."
"You have?" Abel sat up straighter; it had not occurred to him that she would feel anything. It had been too much for hope, to believe such a thing.
Lilith sighed, her proud breasts rising so that her nipples were prominent with their hardness. She looked around the University grounds at the people sitting, walking, talking, reading, doing all manner of things. Going about their lives and innocent of the real world around them.
"I wish I could be one of them."
"Who?" Abel looked at the beautiful woman, leaning closer and scenting the oils in her hair.
"That one..." She pointed to a woman, perhaps 20 years old. Black haired and slender, moving gracefully across the lawns. She carried her books and smiled, seeming to laugh, although she was alone. "She's in love," Lilith sighed. "She is thinking of him and there's nothing else. She cannot see us."
"But ... She's empty." Abel stared at the unknown girl. To his eyes she was a shadow, there was no aura of divine presence. "She has no soul."
"But she has love, Abel. There's a light there, of a different sort..." Lilith blushed, seeming to catch herself suddenly. "You're right."
"Don't worry, Lilith." Abel reached out and took her hand. "I'll pray with you."
She nodded, unable to speak. Lilith was crying.
"And this is the temple where you pray?" Lilith's voice was tinged with humor and she smiled, standing in the doorway and toying with a dandelion chain woven in her hair.
Cain looked up from his knees, turning his face to see the woman over his shoulder.
In front of him on an old leather chair sat Wendy, her long tan legs spread wide, hooked over the arms of the chair. She was smoking a cigarette and she blew an angry cloud of smoke into the air.
"Hey! What'd you stop for?" The dancer made a face. "Go down, baby, come on!" Wendy pulled Cain's mouth back to her sex, but he shrugged her off.
"What?" Cain said.
Wendy followed his gaze and finally saw Lilith, dressed in her thin linen dress, as before devoid of any makeup or jewelry except the flowers in her hair. "Fucking elf! Get out of here!"
"I asked if this was your temple." Lilith moved into the room, rebuking the stripper on the chair with a tiny twitch of her lips.
"It's a dressing room and uh, Wendy ... uh, well ... She had a boo-boo that needed kissing." Cain stood up slowly, wiping around his mouth and chin with his hand. "I didn't think you were coming back."
"Who the fuck is she?" Wendy kicked her foot at Cain, trying to get his attention.
"Shut up." He pushed the girl's foot away.
"We haven't prayed yet," Lilith said. "I thought perhaps..." her voice trailed away.
"Cain!" the girl whined and Lilith looked at her. "What the fuck are you looking at? Get her out of here, Cain!" Wendy flicked her cigarette at Lilith, so it struck the hem of her dress.
"Give her to me," Lilith said.
"Give her?" Cain shrugged. "Take her. She isn't mine."
"I thought you were a shepherd." Lilith laughed and it sounded like glass breaking. "I will leave you now."
"Good!" Wendy laughed and rolled her eyes.
"No! Please." Cain frowned. "I have disappointed you. I'm sorry."
Lilith shook her head. "You haven't disappointed me. This..." she looked at Wendy who gave her the finger, " ... is what I expected."
Cain watched as Lilith turned and left. Wendy giggled and tugged at Cain's belt, trying to pull him closer. "Weird bitch. Come here, lover. I've still got 5 minutes before I'm up."
"Shut-up." Cain cuffed the side of her head hard, knocking the girl out of the chair and onto the floor.
"Bastard!" Wendy stared up at him, a little blood trickling from her nose.
A moment later Cain had his engorged penis inside the girl, driving into her sex with obscene frenzy. "Lilith ... Ohhh fuck ... Lilith..." he moaned.
"What are you doing there, Cain?" a slippery voice wondered.
He turned around slowly, sweating under the armload of wood he carried. "What do you want?"
"Just wanted to say hello, see how my favorite boy was doing." The snake slithered around a tree, over roots and rocks and then rose to slowly take the form of a man. Tall and dark, unblemished and smiling. "Long time no see."
"Yeah." Cain turned around and made his way to the clearing where he would make his sacrifice to the Lord.
"Ohhh..." The man rubbed his hands together. "Looks like a fire's coming."
"I'm going to make an offering." Cain dropped the wood and stood there with his back to the man, wiping his forehead.
"I know," the voice chuckled. "I heard."
"What did you hear?" Cain looked at the man.
"I heard a faint heart never won a fair maiden," the man said as he bent low, picking up a stick and tracing lines in the dirt.
"What's that mean?"
He laughed and looked at Cain. "What are you putting on your fire there?" The man looked over at a calf grazing peacefully 20 yards away. "A cow?" He yawned. "Ho-hum, Cain! Ho-hum sayeth the Lord!" and he laughed again.
"Go away," Cain said with a frown. "You don't know anything. God hates you. Everybody hates you."
"Not true!" The man held up his stick. "But ... Be that as it may, everybody loves Abel." He peered at Cain with yellow eyes. "God loves Abel too."
Cain didn't say anything, he just sat on the stones he'd stacked for his altar.
"I've seen the girl, Cain." The man moved around Cain in a circle, like a wolf waiting to strike. "What's her name?" He snapped his fingers. "Lilith. Yeah, Virgin Lilith. I'd pop that little cherry myself! Ughh!" he groaned, jerking his hips forward. "Little girl like that? She's begging for it, man. Don't tell me you ain't seen it, Cain. How she comes around, sniffing at your cock like a bitch in heat..."
"No," Cain shook his head. "What would you know about it anyway, snake?"