P itch black walls swirled and swelled around Rose; a constant churning below the placid surface of the singular curved wall surrounding her gave the effect that the room she was in was breathing. The conal construct stretched up into the darkness above her until the seams between structure and sky disappeared and gave way to a blanket of stars. Her father had told her about the view many times before, but he had been right, words didn’t do it justice. She couldn’t wait to tell him she had been in here; it was like staring into infinity. A place where time and space first parted ways and brought shape to the world. A last bastion, Abel had constructed the tower to preserve his first view of the afterlife; virgin canvas, untouched and untethered from the rest of The Void.
The air was different in here, the gravity shifting like a fall breeze; it seemed to pull hardest in the middle of the room where Rose now stood, her boots feeling like they were slowly being filled with concrete. She shuffled them as quietly as she could hoping if she kept them moving they would avoid permanently bonding with the floor beneath her. The ground was black, glass-like in appearance but it reflected no light; if anything it seemed to swallow it up and gulp it down deep into its belly. Even her own reflection was missing. It sent her stomach turning as her brain told her she was falling through space while her feet stood firmly planted, heavier than ever. Strange as it was, it was a discomfort she otherwise ignored as the weight of six sets of eyeballs boring down on her proved to be far more uncomfortable.
Rose wasn’t sure how long she’d been standing there in silence. Time didn’t seem to flow the same in here as it did out there. The perimeter was dotted with seven seats cut into the onyx structure and made more comfortable with gold velvet backing and a lower cushion. Six of the seats were occupied, each of them bearing matching robes, black with gold piping around the cuffs, collars and lapels. The seventh seat sat vacant, larger than the others and adorned with intricate gold carvings. From its base gazed a seventh set of eyes. A man hunched over, long blond hair spiraling over his face, entangling with a scruffy beard and shrouding blue eyes that had turned gray long ago. His lips hung open, red and wet. The thousand yard stare in his eyes resembled the loopy gaze of a drunk vagrant slumped over in a shuttered businesses’s front doorway.
Rose stared at him; his chest rising and falling, the man was all muscle but had a sickly quality to him; the wheel of time had long since betrayed the fortitude he’d once been blessed with. Sinewy arms were restrained with shackles that connected down to his ankles. A scabbard hitched at the hip sprawled on the floor beside him. So you’re the great warrior they call Michael, Rose thought to herself. At least you used to be. As the thought left her mind, from across the room Rose could have sworn she saw him flinch. A sharp inhale to her right brought her attention back to the other six in the room.
“Thank you for coming so soon.”
A man named Doyle spoke first. He was the eldest of the group, collectively known as, The Sons of Abel. Two of them were women but that’s just the world for you, isn’t it. Rose dipped her head.
Doyle moved slowly, his bony fingers squeezing the ends of the arm rests whenever he spoke. His face seemed to adopt a new crinkle with each breath, the skin breaking and cresting like waves. Something was bothering him. Rose looked around the room and saw the same wave breaking across the other’s faces too. Something was bothering all of them.
“It’s your Father, Rose,” he said.
“I’m afraid he’s…” Doyle grimaced, “well, put quite simply, I’m afraid he’s gone missing.”