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It won't shut up.

All hours of the day, every day, the stupid sound of harps. Harps and bells- not even quiet bells, mind you. Not the little tinkly kind, or the little round brass ones stuck onto cheapo Christmas decorations. Big, tolling bells like in those old churches. Notre-fucking-Dame. Where was I? Harps, bells, trumpets, the frikkan choir. If I didn't know there was only one up there, I'd swear there was a whole fleet of the feathery bastards mooching off me.

I burrow under the pillows and try to tune out the noise.

No good. The thin blankets do nothing; it's as clear as ever.

"Shut up!" I scream. It's muffled though. He probably doesn't hear it. Or if he does, he doesn't care. The noise continues.

I curl up beneath my blankets and wrap the pillow around me head. I might be muttering under my breath, but at the moment I can barely hear myself think, much less hear what I might be saying.

I swear to God, I'm going to kill the bastard if he doesn't shut up soon.

It's no use. An hour later- a day later, an eternity later- and I'm still up. It's not even music anymore, it's just noise. Cacophonous, writhing, disjointed-

I can't stand it. I can't take it, and what's more, I won't. This is my house, damn it! This is my fucking house and I'm not going to let any damned bird-brain keep me up!

I hurl off the blankets and jump out of bed. No lie. Actually jumped. Leapt out of bed and stomped my way down the hall and up the stairs.

"Shut up!" I screech.

I beat on the door. No matter how hard I pound, I can still hear the noise. It's as loud and as clear as ever. He's doing this on purpose, now. I know he is. He's making sure I and only I hear it. He's pouring it into my ears.


I beat on the door until my hands start to hurt, stop for a second, and then keep on pounding anyways. They’ll probably be bruised in the morning- is this morning? I didn’t check the clock. It may already be tomorrow. That bastard. When I try the knob, it remains locked. The cheater: the door to the attic doesn’t even have a lock.

“Open up or I’m gonna get an axe and open it up myself!”

And believe me; he doesn’t want me with an axe right now. Nobody wants me with an axe right now.

The door creaks sheepishly inwards.

About time.

I ignore the throbbing pain in my hands. My palms are bleeding where my nails cut into them, but I don’t care. I’ve got a bone to pick.

The room is empty. Quiet. Beautifully, blessedly quiet.

Ha! So that's how he wants to play. If he thinks he can get out of it that easy. . .

To the empty room, I say, “I know you’re in here. Come out.”

There’s a slight breeze.

There are no windows in my attic.

“Don't think you can get out of this by playing hard to see!”

The room is filled with the thick scent of incense. It’s something calming. Lavender, maybe. I don’t know. It’s too late for this. I’m so tired. So, so tired. I’ve got work tomorrow- today. Whatever. . .

“Stop it,” I say. I make sure to breathe through my mouth only. “I’m serious. You keep the fucking noise down or I'll. . . I'll. . .”

A thought struck. I feel a grin split across my face.

"Or I’ll get a priest in here."

It may be my imagination, but the temperature seems to drop.

Jackpot. Leverage.

"You heard me! I’ll get a priest, and a pastor, and- and a whole bunch of churchy people over here to bug you, and sing at you and pray at you. How'd you like that, huh? End your little vacation once and for all."

The temperature dives. I can see my breath fog out in front of me.

"I thought so. Keep it down or I’ll rat you out." As an afterthought, I add, "And quit dicking around with the weather."

There wasn’t any answer, though it may have gotten a little warmer. Fine. Good enough for me.

I close the door and go back to my room. It stays quiet.

I throw myself into bed and wrap the blankets around me.

Peace at last.

* * *

The angel waited until she was gone before flickering back into existence.

He heard her stomp back into her room and winced when the bedroom door slammed shut.

Gosh, he thought. She was really mad, wasn't she?

He looked down at the instrument in his hands and, with a sigh, let it evaporate into nothing.

Everyone was a critic.

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