He dragged his fingers, still bloody from the broken glass, through the thick ash that covered the floor. His black cuff trailed in the powdery substance that used to be wood. He had come here to pray to their God; to see if He was truly listening to all living things. He had spoken to the emaciated form hanging on the cross above their altar, but had received no comfort, no answers… He hadn’t meant to get so angry at the silence, but sometimes it was just too hard to keep control...
* * *
She rolled over in bed and stretched out her hand into the cold space beside her. Where was he? She knew she wouldn’t sleep until he got here…especially not with them lurking out there. The news reports were now saying they'd been planning this for years; long before last Tuesday’s influx…that they'd probably been here since at least the 1970s…observing, learning…plotting. The BBC had even reported deliberate spies being sent amongst them, to settle with decent people, to marry and breed and carve out lives for themselves in preparation for the mass immigration that was now taking place.
Her blood boiled when she thought about that…how her people had been watched by them. No doubt they were watching for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, so they could take over her land and run things their way! Well, there was no way she was going to succumb to it! She didn’t care how many of them there were! So what if they became the majority population?! Everyone knew they were a dangerous race…that they did evil things when angered…she could not, would not, live under a belief system, political or religious, that advocated that!
And the little half-breeds…the children of the poor families infiltrated…which way would they lean? They were probably the most dangerous of all…trusted by neither race. She shuddered, hearing the shattering of glass outside…oh God, who had upset one of them now? How many more of her kind had met a violent end to soothe the wrath of one of them? It couldn’t go on like this…the deeper their anger, the more devastating and destructive the consequences. There had already been fires, plane crashes, bombs and building collapses…and there would be a war, she could feel it. Sirens wailed in the street outside and the formation of a chattering, baying crowd could be heard. Where was he?! She definitely wouldn’t sleep until he was home.
* * *
He picked himself up off the ground, brushing the ash from his clothes and darted through a hole in the ruined wall. Perhaps he could lie after all? The fire had taken a pretty good hold after the collapse. Any evidence had surely burned, and he didn’t think anyone had seen him. Maybe it wouldn’t be necessary to explain...
The crowd had gathered quickly around the collapsed church, drawn by the noise and dust, but they had not been interested in his shadowy, fleeing form. They were too anxious, too outraged by their notion of what had taken place there.
They were digging through the rubble now; searching for a priest they were sure had been in his vestry when the building came down. They were likely right, and the thought of the possibly injured man troubled him somewhat. He considered helping them, but he barely trusted the fragile stability of his mood…he still felt agitated, volatile; helping could do more harm than good. And besides, he had to get home. She would be waiting…worrying…she could never sleep until he was there...
* * *
She felt his warmth against her back and his arms snake around her, even before she heard him. She sighed in relief and caught his hand in hers. Drawing it to her mouth, she kissed his fingers and tasted something metallic…blood?! Brick dust clung to her lips and panic gripped her.
“I heard it…” she said, her voice wavering with worry. “What happened out there? You promised me you wouldn’t get involved.”
“I know.” He said, his voice quiet, but steady and unapologetic. “But a church came down on Parlour Street and some people thought there might be a priest inside…”
“Bastards!” She fumed. “Have they no shame? A church?! A priest, for Christ's sake?! How can they believe their gods will reward them for this?!” He sighed.
“They don’t believe that.” He told her. “Not all of them.”
“Of course they do, they’re evil.” She said, wearily. “And I’m tired of it! Why should we all have to keep them happy so they don’t try to kill us every five minutes?! There’s going to be a war anyway, so I say the sooner, the better! It’s about time someone put them in their place!”
“Attitudes like that will lead to a war, for sure.” He answered, squeezing her gently, but there was no chastisement in his tone and, she found, his rationality was more comforting than irking. “I just think we misunderstand them sometimes. They’re not all bad.” He felt her smile then.
“You see, that’s what I love about you.” She said, almost dreamily. “If you’d been closer tonight, when that church came down, you could have been hurt…or killed…but still, you want to find something redeeming in them. You want to see the good in everyone. I love that.” Her words caused a thick blanket of calm to fall over him, and he felt a sudden, fiery warmth in his chest.
“It’s not about seeing the good in everyone,” he told her. “It’s about acknowledging it in yourself. I can’t hate them, because I don’t believe most of them want to hurt us. Sure…terrible things seem to happen when they’re angry, but I think those things are mostly accidental. They’re capable of a lot of good too.”
“Such as…?” She said, sceptically.
“Well,” he whispered, teasingly. “Have you ever seen one of them in love?” She shook her head. “I wish you could…” he smiled and kissed her shoulder. “They glow…it’s amazing.”
She sighed, unconvinced, but he felt her relax into him as she settled down to sleep, and he drew her back, more tightly, against himself. Even as the bony spines protruding from his vertebrae; the remnants of his anger in the church; were still fading to rounded bumps, he was glad of her body pressed so closely against his. It dulled the light that glittered, brightly, in his chest. No matter how often he prayed, or to which gods, he knew, he would never be rid of it. Like having curly hair, it was something he’d inherited. His father had been known to glow upon sight of his mother too…