Chapter 23 - 'Delirium’




        Mephistopheles laid Jason gently amongst the pile of pillows. "Thanks Nodiesha," he said, over his shoulder to the woman who waited patiently. "Luce sent the other healers on some stupid vacation thing. Something to do with work benefits, so you're the only one around right now..."

        Nodiesha stepped around him, a tight fitting nurses uniform stretching around her pale skin. "Just doing my job," she smiled cheerfully and looked down at Jason's unconscious form. "What happened to him?"

        "Damien got to him before I did." The fallen angel said simply.

        "Oh, I see." She reached out to touch one of Jason's hands where a spike had been stabbed clean through. She gasped as her fingers touched him. "He's not dead!"

        "What?" Mephistopheles looked at her in confusion. "Of course he's not dead. That's why I brought him to the healers, not the resurrection pits."

        "That's not what I meant," she hissed. "He hasn't taken a first death yet. He shouldn't be here!"

        "Like I said, Damien got to him first." He twisted his mouth thoughtfully. "Look, Luce wants him healed up for dinner with him tonight." Mephistopheles reached inside his coat and pulled out a small bottle.

        Nodiesha looked at it in awe. "Is that what I think it is?"

        The fallen angel grinned and handed her the bottle of Baileys. "If you fix him up and have him lucid by his dinner date, I have five more bottles waiting for you."

        She snatched off the lid and guzzled it down. "You've got yourself a deal, gorgeous!"

        "Thanks." Mephistopheles back-stepped out of the healing temple and leapt into the air. His black wings stretched out and caught the rising warm air currents before whisking him away.

        Nodiesha leant forwards over Jason and pulled up one of his eyelids. "Hello sweetness, let's see what we can do for you, hm?" She reached for his closest hand and lifted it gingerly, inspecting the metal spike and the chunk of marble that still held it fast. "Good thing you're asleep... cause this is gonna hurt like a bitch." With that, she set about carefully extracting the steel from his hand.


        Jason's head rolled to the side, and his tongue lolled out of the corner of his open mouth. He rolled over onto his stomach and lifted himself into a crouching position. He winced and put a hand to his side. The fear of Damien raping him suddenly rushed back and he reached behind to touch his bottom gingerly. It didn't seem to hurt...

        He looked down at the ground between his legs and tilted his head, his brow furrowing. He reached down and touched the smooth surface and then looked up, following the line the path made. It was like a candy cane, red and white swirls twisting across the path. The tree to the side of the path that overhung him now rustled like foil. A leaf broke loose and drifted down in front of him. Jason picked it up and felt the delicate tin. He unwrapped it gently to find a fine chocolate leaf inside. He took a nibble from it curiously. Where the chocolate broke off, gooey caramel oozed out.

        "Okay..." Jason said to himself slowly as he stood. "I've died and gone to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory... Either that or Heaven mixed me up with a girl scout."

        The more he looked, the more he saw that everything around him was made of some sort of candy. Even the glowing orb of the sun above looked like a gumdrop hung in the sky. He looked down the path in both directions, but there was no sign of any life, or in fact anything but candy mimicking nature.

        "Eanie meanie miney moe..." he started and then stopped. "Fuck it, I'll go this way." The path ahead wound around the side of a hill covered in what looked like chocolate buttons. Eventually he rounded the knoll only to find that the candy cane path continued to weave through a series of smaller hills.

        "You know," Jason thought out loud. "This would actually be kind fun if it weren't so creepishly empty." Then he frowned. "Ok, Jason. Time to stop talking to yourself. That's the first sign of insanity."

        He continued along the path a little further before a steady 'thump thump thump' reached his ears.

        He turned in time to see a large, white rabbit with a ruff round the knoll, hopping madly along. "Fuck fuck fuck! I'm fucking late again! He's going to fucking kill me!" He was saying, over and over again.

        He was so busy hurrying along, he almost didn't see Jason in time to avoid bouncing right into the boy. "Who the fuck are you?" He asked Jason sharply.

        Jason blinked a few times at the giant rabbit that stood before him. "Why do I feel like I just got dropped in the middle of some sort of X-rated 'Alice In Wonderland'?"

        The rabbit snapped out a folded fan and gave him a sound thwack on the forehead. "I asked you a fucking question." He smacked Jason with the fan again. "Who the fuck are you?" And then gave him another smack for good measure.

        Jason was too stunned to react. He just got smacked by a giant rabbit with a fan! The bunny made to hit him again, and Jason snatched the fan from his paw. He easily snapped it in half and tossed it on the floor. "Don't hit people, it's not nice."

        The white rabbit's red nose paled suddenly, and his ears dropped backwards as his eyes grew wide. "Oh fuck! You're one of his servants! Fuck! Sorry! Fuck!" He gasped apologetically. "Pleasedon'tkillme!"

        Jason looked at him quizzically. "Trix are for kids?"


        "Um... never mind." he paused. "So who are you?"

        The rabbit grinned and bounced up and down a few times. "My name's-- My name is-- aaaah... my name is... FUCK! Why do I always forget my fucking name?!" He stopped bouncing abruptly and sank to the ground, his large feet sticking out in front of him comically. He sniffled for a moment and then suddenly burst into tears.

        Looking at him, Jason couldn't help but feel pity. Even if the damned rabbit had just been smacking him 'round the face, he still felt bad. Jason crouched down and touched his companion's soft white shoulder. "Hey, it's ok. If you can't remember your name, it's probably because you didn't like it." He smiled weakly, trying to cheer up the rabbit. "Now's the perfect time to choose a name you really like!"

        The rabbit stopped crying immediately. "You think?" He looked up at Jason, his whiskers quivering.

        "Sure! Why not?" Jason grinned. "It's your name after all, why not choose one you like?"

        "I quite like Beelzebub," He said, with a twitch of his nose.

        "Um... ok." Not exactly what Jason would have expected of a bunny rabbit, but... "Beelzebub it is then!" He extended his hand to shake the rabbit's paw. "Nice to meet you Beelzebub, my name's Jason."

        The newly dubbed Beelzebub took his hand with both his paws and turned it over. He sniffed it and then pushed it aside. "Jason eh? I knew a Jason once. He died." He cheerfully hopped up onto his feet again. "Although that might have been a Jacob... Anyway, where are you going?"

        Jason rose to his feet again and then shielded his eyes from the gum drop sun with a hand as he peered further down the road. The rabbit hopped up next to him and copied his actions. He shook his paw and then tried again, wanting to see whatever Jason was seeing. He leant sideways in front of Jason, partially blocking his view before turning around and facing him with a hop.

        "Whatcha' lookin' at?" Beelzebub queried.

        "Um... nothing. I was just trying to see what's further down the road."

        "Oh." The rabbit hopped a few paces to the side and craned his neck forwards; again, he copied Jason's action of shielding his eyes from the sun. "Well there's a cross road up ahead. If you go left, you'll end up at this crazy bitches’ gingerbread house who'll probably try to eat you." He paused and turned his body more to the right. "If you head right, you'll turn up at that crazy fuck with the big hat's tea party." He stopped again and hopped back to Jason.

        "You could see all that from there?"

        "No, I go through here every day." The rabbit cocked an ear at him.

        "Oh." Jason considered his options. "What about the other way?"

        "What other way?"

        "Well, it's a crossroads isn't it? There are usually four ways to go at a cross roads... Unless it's a T-junction."

        The rabbit hopped nervously on one foot. "Oh no, you don't want to go that way."

        Jason blinked, then asked slowly. "So there IS a fourth road?"

        Beelzebub twitched his whiskers. "No."

        "So then which way do I not want to go?"

        The rabbit gave a happy jump. "Straight ahead. Don't wanna go that way."

        He stared at his furry companion hard. "So what isn't up that way then?"

        Beelzebub hopped and flopped his ears. "Oh, there's just the courts up that way."

        "I see," Jason muttered. "Is that where you were heading?"

        The rabbit's ears drooped and he looked suddenly nervous and afraid. "mmmyes?"

        "Well then, I want to go to the courts. Maybe someone there can tell me how to get home." Jason decided. "Yes, we're going to the courts. Come along." And before Beelzebub could even complain, Jason grasped his paw firmly and started dragging him along. "How far's the crossroads?"

        Beelzebub hopped along next to him, well out of arms reach. "Just around the bend."

        Jason looked down and found himself gripping a pair of white gloves in his hands. He muttered an apology and handed them back to the rabbit, who took them absently and slipped them back on.


        Nodiesha eased the second spike from Jason's hand and pressed her hands on either side of the wound as blood began to pour out. A black glow flowed from between her fingers and then she took her hands away, admiring her craftwork. The gaping hole left by the stake was now just a circle of pale skin on Jason's palm and the back of his hand.

        She uncurled her pinkie and shape-shifted it back into it's clawed from and sliced up through Jason's shirt, cleaving it with one swipe and then slitting the sleeves as well. She peeled off the two halves and examined his bruised chest and sides. "You sure as hell worked a number on this one Damien." She summoned up the glow of her hands again, working slowly up his sides, breathing quietly so as to hear his ribs grinding back into place. When she had finished, she crawled on top of the boy and lay on his chest, looking into his sleeping face.

        "So what's so special about you then, hm?" Nodiesha muttered to herself. "Why is everyone so interested in you? I mean, you're cute, but you're no Helen of Troy..."

        Jason groaned softly in his sleep.

        She frowned and let her tail take form. She whipped it up over her shoulder, the end smouldering gently as if about to catch fire. She waved it in front of Jason's nose, the smoke rushing up his nostrils as he inhaled. He mumbled something incoherent and then fell still. She smiled at his delirium-induced sleep and let her tail melt back up into her human body.

        She crawled off of him and slipped her claw out again. She cut up the length of Jason's trousers on each side and then pulled away the top half before going to work, inspecting his legs for injury.


        They rounded the last hill and found themselves, just as Beelzebub had said, at a crossroads of the candy cane paths. Jason gave only a brief glance to the path that ran to his left and disappeared amongst some chocolate pine trees. He looked longer to his right, trying to see something of the tea party that was supposedly taking place in that direction. But he didn't stop. He kept on walking, the rabbit hopping along merrily beside him.

        The landscape ahead of them was a flat plain of sugar icing grass. Beelzebub broke off handfuls of the stuff as they journeyed onwards, munching happily on the sweet candy. A river split the plains ahead and Jason could see a fox swimming across it, a gingerbread man perched on his head. The road ran over a bridge that spanned the river, where a little pig and a bear with a honey pot were playing pooh sticks. As they passed them by, the rabbit hopped and jostled the pig, knocking him off the bridge and into the water.

        "Dude!" Jason exclaimed.

        "What?" Beelzebub looked around excitedly. "What? Where? Who?"

        Jason stared at him. "You just drowned Piglet!"

        "What?" The rabbit hopped to the edge of the river and looked down into the waters. Piglet's head bobbed to the surface and he shook his fist at the bunny. "Nah, it's ok. He's made of rubber, so he floats." Beelzebub flopped his ears nonchalantly and bounded onwards.

        "Oh..." was just about all he could manage as Piglet bobbed along under the bridge and was washed to shore on the other side. He picked himself up, shook himself off like a dog and then ran back to Pooh on the bridge.

        Jason ran to catch up with his white companion. "So what is this place then? Fairy tale heaven?"

        Beelzebub shrugged but kept hopping. "Don't ask me. It's you're delirium."


        "I said, this is Ilerium."

        Jason glowered. "No you didn't. You said--"

        Beelzebub turned mid-hop and glared at him. "Hey pal, I'm not the crazy one here, so don't you get bitchy with me!"

        "I'm not crazy!" Jason protested.

        "Oh yeah, sure you're not. I guess worlds made of candy and filled with fairy tale characters are just a regular everyday thing then?"

        "Shut up or I'll tie your ears in a knot."

        The rabbit curled up his paws like fists and hopped back and forth in front of him. "Oh yeah? I'd like to see you try, you sorry sonofa--"

        He fell silent as together they turned to watch a naked man run past them through the grass, screaming as he was pursued by a woman in a nurses uniform.

        Jason was about to ask the white rabbit why the man was running, when the woman suddenly sprouted scales and thick, leathery wings. She launched herself after him and caught him around the waist as they tumbled in the grass.

        "Let's... um... keep walking, shall we?" Jason asked nervously.

        Beelzebub shot him a look but started hopping again, muttering something that sounded to Jason suspiciously like, "Crazy fuck."

        A tiny dot appeared on the horizon and grew rapidly into a sprawling castle with towering turrets and minarets. It grew alarmingly, as if it were rushing towards them.

        "W-who rules here then?" Jason inquired.

        "I told you earlier."

        Jason searched his memory. "No you didn't."

        "Sure I did."

        Jason grabbed the rabbit by the shoulder and stopped him. "No, you didn't. Now stop dodging the question and tell me who rules this place."

        Beelzebub shook himself free. "I'm telling you, I DID tell you. Here, I'll prove it!" He reached inside his vest and pulled out a thick, leather bound tome. He flipped through the pages 'till he found what he was looking for. He turned the book around and pointed at the page for Jason.

        Jason read aloud:

        ‘The white rabbit's red nose paled suddenly, and his ears dropped backwards as his eyes grew wide. "Oh fuck! You're one of his servants! Fuck! Sorry! Fuck!" He gasped apologetically. "Pleasedon'tkillme!"

        Jason looked at him quizzically. "Trix are for kids?"


        "Um... never mind." he paused. "So who are you?"

        The rabbit grinned and bounced up and down a few times. "My name's--"’

        The rabbit snatched the book back and flipped through the pages. "Oh... ok, I guess I didn't tell you."

        Jason reached out and took the book back. He flipped through several dozen pages before the rabbit snatched the book out of his hands.

        "Hey!" Beelzebub scolded him. "No looking ahead, that's cheating." He quickly stuffed the book back inside his coat.

        "Okay..." Jason looked at him in exasperation. "So who rules this place?"

        "I dunno..."


        The bunny twitched his whiskers. "Well I haven't read it yet, have I?"

        Jason balled his fists and tried to keep from lashing out at the furry annoyance.

        Beelzebub snatched a chocolate rose off a bush they passed and handed it to Jason. "Happy birthday."

        "It's not my birthday yet--"

        "I said Happy fucking birthday," the rabbit snapped.

        Jason took the chocolate rose from him quickly. "Sheesh! You need to take a chill pill dude."

        The castle shot towards them and the came to a halt. Jason looked up at the massive chocolate doors that were standing ajar. He looked to his furry friend, who simply shrugged, his ears cocked at an angle.

        Jason reached out a hand and pushed the door open further. He stuck his head around the door and then heard behind him:

        "WAKE THE FUCK UP!" as a pair of large feet impacted with his back and he tumbled forwards though the doors.

        Jason toppled into the darkness beyond the doors and the ground fell away under him, sending him rolling head-over-heels though space. He saw himself lying amongst a pile of pillows and he rushed towards his body. He put his hands up in front of him to shield the impact and closed his eyes. His head collided with his own.

        Jason blinked his eyes open and put a head to his head. "Oooow." he groaned.

        "Well hello handsome, nice of you to wake up!"

        Jason jerked his head to the side and looked for the owner of the voice. A very beautiful and very naked woman lay on her side next to him, grinning as she regarded him. He noticed his own nakedness and quickly grabbed one of the many pillows, covering his groin.

        "Um... hello?"


        The Congress of Heaven packed the room, all but the Chancellor's seat remained empty. Ashley stood in the center of the arena. The ceremonial robes hung heavy on her shoulders.

        "Ashley," Tobias called out, his voice echoing in the stiff silence as he rose to his feet. "In accordance with the laws set down by the Ancients (may the light shine on them always), on this day and before this council--"

        A dull rumble filled the room, causing some of the council members to shift restlessly in their seats and look about them.

        He continued. "And by the rights of blood, you are to be sworn in--"

        The rumbling rose to a roar that filled the alabaster room and then died, only to be replaced by the sucking noise of a collapsing vacuum. The council members began to mutter uneasily, taking the noise as an omen of bad portent.

        Tobias was undaunted, "As Chancellor of Heaven and--"

        With a great pop, like the sound of a cork shooting from a champagne bottle, Matthew materialized beside Ashley.

        "Halt!" Someone shouted from the seats. "She is not the next in line!"

        "Tobias!" Someone else cried in rage. "What are you trying to do, destroy the mantle of Heaven?"

        "The mantle of Heaven has already been destroyed!" Matt shouted into the gathering. "The Chancellor yet lives!"

        "Miriam has abandoned the high halls of Heaven," Tobias snarled in answer. "She has relinquished her rights as chancellor and so it must be passed on. You refuted your place as heir, Matthew, and so it passes to Ashley."

        "My father is alive!" Matt hollered at him.

        Any single voice in the hall was lost among the sudden uproar that exploded in the great room. The usually docile council members were on their feet, heated arguments breaking out like wild fire.

        Matt tugged Ashley to the far side of the room. "Dad's alive, Ashley!" He shouted in her ear over the tumult.

        "How do you know?" Ashley protested. "Mom said--"

        "She lied to us! I talked to God. He told me to find Dad, and I was right about Jason too. He's the only thing that matters now."

        "Matty, you're not making sense!" His sister begged him. "God's gone! He hasn't shown--"

        "Ash, I need you to believe me. If you've never believed me before, believe in me now. I have to go. Dad is out there somewhere, and Mom's up to something." He said hurriedly. "Something's happening to Jason. I don't know how or why, but everything is coming to a crux." He pushed into her mind images of everything that had happened in the last few days.

        She looked at him woefully. "You're leaving again aren't you?"

        "I have to Ash... Look around you! Heaven is collapsing."

        "Matt, if Mom lied to us about Dad..."

        "I know."

        "Be careful." She hugged him tightly and then he was gone with a shower of warm sparks that fell on her skin. Ashley turned to see Tobias pushing his way through the arguing council members to reach her.

        "What the hell is your brother playing at Ashley?" He snapped once he got within hearing range.

        "We have to stop them." She called to him, meaning the squabbling congress. "I'll explain everything, but we have to make them listen!"

        Tobias grabbed her close to him. "Stay still."

        She held perfectly still, like a statue in his arms. She felt a heat at her back and heard the crackle of energy. Over his shoulder, she could see the ring of pure energy flash outwards, growing larger and larger until it collided with the front row of council members and knocked them down into their seats. It blasted through the room, leaving only them standing as the Congress of Heaven, picked themselves up in stunned silence.

        Ashley stepped quickly away from Tobias and raised her hands to address the council before her. "We face a dire situation." She started. "We have been governed by false mandate for many years--"

        Angry shouts from Miriam's supporters drowned her out.

        "Listen!" Ashley cried out. She touched her fingers to her throat and muttered an enchantment before trying again. "Listen to me!" Her voice boomed out, magnified ten fold by her magic.

        "We have been lead astray by false mandate," this time, her voice drowned out the shouts and protests. "My father is still alive somewhere, and Matthew has gone to seek him out. But--" She raised her hands again against the scoffing noises that came from many of the listeners. "But, we face something far greater. You all know of the boy Jason Parker, whom my brother mistakenly believed to be The One."

        This drew several murmurs from the crowd, but nothing loud. She let the enchantment on her voice slip away so she could address them in normal tones.

        "We know now that he is not. That project has been found to be a failure in all intended aspects. But there seems to have been a development in Jason's situation. A development, which leaves only two possible explanations. Either God is back in the game and has his own designs for this boy..." There was a stunned silence. "Or we are about to bear witness to the fulfilment of the Prophecy of Rebirth."

        The sounds now from the council were noises of confusion and question.

        Tobias stepped forwards to stand beside Ashley. "We have prided ourselves too greatly of late and we have forgotten the prophecies of the ancients. It was foretold that 'in a time of great peril, when the council has been lead astray, an Ancient will return to us. In the guise of a mortal. And he shall open the gates of Heaven and those eyes that were blinded shall see.'" He quoted.

        "But what is the peril?" Someone asked. "We have done nothing!"

        "We have all been lead astray by false mandate." Ashley explained. "The peril is that we risk falling to our own pride and ignorance."

        "What are you saying?" An elderly woman with marble features inquired. "Are you telling us that this boy is one of the ancients reborn?" The outrage at such a notion was hard to miss in her voice.

        "I'm saying that it is a distinct possibility."

        "Then where is he?" A younger angel stood at this point. "Let us bring him here to
Heaven so he can save us!"

        Ashley closed her eyes and searched through the memories Matt had given her. She found the one she was looking for, Matt kneeling in the circle of melted snow, and exhaled slowly. "He's in Hell."