02:37am 22nd July - depart from London by commercial jet, business class.
00:53am 22nd July - arrive in New York an acceptable 7 minutes behind schedule.
Slaying an archangel is hard work. It takes a great deal of study, picking your mark, separating fact from legend, learning your target's tells and vulnerabilities. Even if you succeed, and when I tore Gabriel's crystal heart from his open chest I became one of the precious few who have, there is still the matter of retribution. Angels never forget the death of one of their own, and a legion of these creatures now wait to descend and deliver their vengeance. My only sanctuary is the night. Angels can only exist in light of the sun and as such I owe my continued existence to the wonders of modern technology, which is capable of sending man half way around the globe faster than the approach of the morning sunrise.
I chase the night. Or at least I chase the processed luminance of airports and rail terminals.
I've got an hour and a half before my next trip - absconding once more from the approaching sunrise - so I sit in a cheap franchised diner for lunch. Everyone else is calling it breakfast, trying to trick themselves into believing this is a usual time to be awake and starting the working day. For me it is. This stretch of darkness is all I have - there are some hours I never see anymore.
I find that I'm reaching for the small box that contains Gabriel's heartstone. The box is made from specially treated oak, quite plain with brass fixings, and it snaps open easily to reveal the faceted crystal, iridescent but soaked throughout in a blood red. I run my hands over the smooth faces that abruptly turn into sharp edges and feel a pulsing from deep within. It's not symmetrical (being off-formed, skewed to one of its sides) but as far as I'm concerned its features are perfect.
"What a pretty little bauble."
Damn. A businessman. One of those chirpy morning-person ones. He's got a pudgy face and has convinced himself into a suit 50lbs too small. I suppose he thinks it holds his figure better, but in fact it just means his collar is lost in the neck its trying to squeeze the life out of.
"I think a cousin of mine has something just like it." he says, sitting down on the stool next to me, "May I see?"
He offers out his hand but all he receives is a glare as I snap the box shut and pocket it hastily. His cousin most certainly does not have something 'just like it'. This is the heart of one of the most powerful creatures that ever graced the earth, and that power is still beating inside. I only have to concentrate for a moment and I can still feel its pulse softly pushing at reality. The Brotherhood suspect that an angel's slayer becomes intrinsically linked to its heartstone. All I know is that I hear it beating when I drift off to sleep - it's soothing.
Fortunately the stuffed sack of a man scuttles off to harass someone else, his demeanour untarnished by my presence. I polish off my lunch and feel better about it all. When you travel as much as I you learn to quickly let go of the things that bother you, otherwise every day would soon be ruined. People don't tend to travel well.
02:32am 22nd July - depart from New York by magnetic rail.
03:15am 22nd July - arrive in Calgary, with enough time to watch people come and go.
Most of humanity remains unaware of that battle still being waged between this and the higher planes. Although He has long since forsaken us, the angels left behind still carry out His work with unrelenting vehemence. We are determined to eradicate them and finally release this world from His grasp, but it's a difficult task to best such powerful creatures. I'm fortunate that there are enough people in a position of power - members of the Brotherhood - who know about this threat and are willing keep me moving through the night. They first tried to bury me underground in solitude, claiming it would be safer, but what kind of a life would that be? Huddled in the darkness alone like a frightened animal.
I prefer to be around people, watching them drift by. Even over-friendly businessmen are preferable to no company at all.
At this hour the station drags up all kinds of people. The days blur into each other; yesterday's late nights mingle with today's early mornings; the last pint hastily finished mingles with a pot of coffee.
One man in a cheap suit, grey and faded, is preparing for a business conference that he should have sorted out last week. Frustration is written all over his face: flustered pink with a furrowed brow, and slightly damp from panicked perspiration. He mutters into his tablet going over the same words again and again, never sounding comfortable with them.
A little further on and there is a pair of girls propping each other up as they struggle to stay awake. They're dressed with life, bright colours and bold statements, but their bodies are exhausted - their youth for the night already spent in half a dozen clubs and bars. The conference man doesn't like them - they make him uneasy, worried that they might be listening to and judging his poorly prepared presentation - but when the train pulls in he'll wake them up all the same.
The bright night-life mingles with the the faded grey of the working morning.
The next step on my continuous journey through the night is by air, which means another chance to see cities sparkling below, washing over and ebbing in the darkness. Life is so much more serene when viewed from so far above and it's just as beautiful as the first time I saw it, but before long I start drifting into sleep, nodding and snapping awake until I decide to lie my head back and get some rest. At least it's always quiet on my flights, full of people who would much rather be at home asleep and lacking the energy to make a fuss.
04:32am 22nd July - depart from Calgary by commercial jet, economy class
03:03am 23rd July - arrive in Moscow with aching legs
I'm on my way to the check-in desk to sort out my next flight as soon as we land, eager to be off again. I get a little nervous on the way in as I notice more sorry-looking business men than usual for this hour. I hold my satchel close as I weave between them and my fears are realised when I see the flight boards: delays and cancellations across half a dozen flights. There's been an accident on one of the main runways apparently, involving a garbage truck of all things. My flight isn't cancelled, but it's not showing an expected departure time and I'm not going to hang around to find out when it will leave. The sun is approaching.
Not a problem; this was bound to happen eventually and it has all been accounted for. The hyperhighway won't gain me much time but it will get me to a new city, and thus a new airport - one with all of its runways clear of debris. I could sort out passes on the way and find a flight back to America that I wouldn't have to wait long for.
I glimpse one of the airport staff walking briskly in my direction, an oddly intent look on her face, when I hear an authoritative voice behind me.
I stop walking instinctively; the tone of voice that suggests I would do better to comply. Turning I see two men, dressed sharply in black suits with shirt collars that are perfectly taut.
I manage a meek "Yes?", then reassert myself a little by clearing my throat and saying "Can I help you gentlemen?"
"Mr. Anderson, this is Agent Fowler and I am Agent Phelps." Neither man gestures to the other. They both stand as rigid as their collars. "We would like to ask you some questions if you would please follow us."
The pair flash ID cards at me. I have no idea what their cards are supposed to look like, but they both have pistols in clear view so I assume that someone checked them out before they came anywhere near the airport.
I can't help but look down at my watch. Time has become mortally important to me.
"Are we keeping you from something important, Mr Anderson?" Agent Phelps has that horrid ability to say something that sounds sincere despite being loaded with all kinds of sarcasm and arrogance. I suspect that's why he's the one talking. Agent Fowler is probably the kind that could kill you with a spoon, and not even a metal one at that, one of those cheap plastic things.
"No. No, not at all. Please, lead on."
Agent Phelps leads and Agent Fowler falls in behind me, which only adds to my theory concerning his particular talents. I'm taken to a small room in a restricted section of the airport. It doesn't say interrogation room on the door, but it's soon pretty clear what's going on here. There's a table and two chairs, and a small grilled window near the ceiling. I'm instructed to sit.
I consider running for a brief moment, but how am I supposed to outrun bullets? I still have time; this might not take long.
Agent Phelps takes his time. He sits, looks at me, leafs through a few records on his tablet, looks at me again, and all the while it feels like my father is sitting there judging every mistake I've ever made.
"You're a pretty frequent flyer. Isn't that right?"
"Quite right, sir." I never say sir. Damn this man.
"Not much time for sightseeing though."
"I guess not."
Agent Phelps pauses. He seems to enjoy letting the seconds slip by.
"In fact. You rarely leave the airports." he says, "Just constant travelling."
This guy's going to beat about the bush until sunrise. Time for a more active approach. "I like travelling. I like eating in single serving portions." That isn't true, single serving portions are the embodiment of depression poured into a plastic dish. "There's no crime in that."
"No crime, Mr Anderson. No crime at all. But since your flight has been cancelled what's wrong with a little chat? Your travels have intrigued a few people in our office. Isn't that right, Agent Fowler?"
Agent Fowler doesn't speak. He just switches his contempt from me to Agent Phelps for a second; then it's back on me.
"Do you have, or have you ever had, any affiliation with any organisation that seeks to undermine international relations, Mr Anderson?" He's getting to the point now at least.
"Do any of your friends or family have any affiliations with any organisation that seeks to undermine international relations?"
A battery of questions continue in the same manner for what must be couple of hours. Every time I think of my need to leave, my eyes wander to the pistols clearly on display. After a while I give up trying work the answers out and just say 'I don't know' to everything. Maybe that was the test - how long can I stomach pointless questions - because after a dozen or so non-committal responses Agent Fowler leaves to 'verify my answers'.
The monotony of it all has lulled me out of thinking clearly, but I glance down at my watch and panic instantly sets in again, gripping me at the stomach and driving up into my chest. It's 05:18am and the minutes are ticking away, the first signs of light are already creeping up from the horizon. I've not got long left. Not long at all.
"Well. I think I could all use a little rest. We seem to have been at this all night." says Agent Phelps, getting up to leave. The terror that's growing on my face seems to amuse him.
"Oh don't worry, Mr Anderson, I'll be back soon to pick up the pieces. In the meantime, why don't you enjoy the sunrise?"
He leaves, locking the door behind him - the bolt drives into my mind like a gunshot - and my terror gives way to loathing.
"Traitors!" I scream, "Thralls! Damn you all!"
I turn to grab a chair and see the orange rim of the sun through the grills on the window.
05:23 23rd July - the sun rises on Moscow.
"Good Morning Mister Anderson."
The angel's voice echoes around the small room, sounding like it's rolling through a grand cathedral, and his eyes bore through me with hatred. How such supposedly pure creatures can be capable of the spite and menace in that glare I'll never know.
"You Have Clawed The Heart Of An Archangel. All Sin May Be Forgiven, But This May Never Be Forgotten."
He reaches towards me and there is a flash of light that leaves my eyes feeling disturbingly hot. I blink at the discomfort and stumble towards my satchel, groping for its contents. It's the arrogance that I can take advantage of, it's how I got the better of Gabriel. He thinks he's already triumphed, and he expects me to realise this and bow before him, but man has a habit of fighting back. I delve into my satchel grabbing a canvas pouch full of sand and ash, and throw it up into the room spilling the contents wide. The sands were scraped from one of the darkest pits on the earth, a place that even He could not touch, a place where much older gods festered and challenged Him.
And the angel burns. I know he burns because I hear his anguish, screaming just like Gabriel did with a sound that cuts through to the bone.
I still haven't much time. I grab the angel by the wings, pushing the pain in my hands as far out of my mind as possible, and throw him towards the door. Singed wood explodes in splinters into the hallway as the angel falls through, and cradling my burnt hands I hurry down the corridor searching for an escape. I need to get underground, and soon.
There's someone at the end of the corridor waving. Have I seen her before? I almost turn back thinking it's station security, but then I realise she's trying to usher me into a room, and looks just as panicked as I must do.
"Brother!" she shouts, "Quickly, down here."
I dart round the corner and into a maintenance alley. There's a ladder here leading down to some of the underground systems a perfect hiding place. Fortunately the chute's thin, so I lean back against the wall and climb down without troubling my hands, sinking into the floor when I reach the bottom. I'm back in safe, processed light, where the sun cannot reach me.
"Thank-you." I say, gasping for breath. My hands feel worse now that I've got the time to remember them, but I'm deeply glad to be somewhere safe.
"The Brotherhood sent word as soon as they heard of the accident, but it was impossible for me to reach you after you were taken away. It looks like government agents gone rogue but nobody is admitting whose they were."
"They had me locked up in a room before I figured there was something wrong."
"We thought that you might reconsider staying in one of the secure, underground locations. Given recent events."
I agree to the offer. The thrill of travelling is lost to me now.