Search Results for angel azrael

The Angel Azrael and the War Ghosts

I’ve written another tale of Azrael, the angel gunslinger, that Beneath Ceaseless Skies has been kind enough to publish. “The Angel Azrael and the War Ghosts” follows the fallen angel Azrael as he crosses paths with some soldiers that refuse to die and who just can’t leave the past behind. Here’s the opening bit:

It was a gunshot that woke the angel Azrael from his dream of the wars and put him on the path to redemption. A single shot that cracked through the hot air of the day like the world had snapped and broken somewhere.

At the time, Azrael was slumbering in the saddle atop the dead horse, letting it take him where it would across the badlands, for he had no destination of his own. He was dreaming of the final battle at the Jericho Wall, of the angel Lazarus standing amid all the dead in the breach in that wall, his bible burning in his hands and flames in his eyes as he stared accusingly at Azrael. The battle cries and screams of the dying were so loud in Azrael’s ears that he almost didn’t hear the shot.

He opened his eyes to find himself riding across the same lifeless plain as when he’d drifted off to sleep hours or perhaps even days earlier. The ground was hard and cracked from the unrelenting heat. He suspected it hadn’t seen a rainfall in his lifetime. It rose and fell here and there, providing just enough cover for someone to set up an ambush. But Azrael saw no other soul, living or dead, and no bullet struck him. There wasn’t even a mark of one hitting the ground anywhere nearby. The shot must have been fired somewhere else, at someone else. He rested his hands on the guns at his hips nevertheless.

The dead horse was following a wagon trail, but that trail had come to a crossroads where it split in two. One branch angled off to the west, while the other disappeared into the horizon in the opposite direction. There were no signs indicating where the trails might lead.

Azrael squinted up at the sky, searching. The merciless sun filled the heavens with a bright emptiness. The two buzzards that accompanied him everywhere were circling to the west, a sure sign there was something of import that way. Azrael nudged the dead horse in their direction. The buzzards had a sense for trouble that was rarely wrong. Experience had taught him it was best not to ignore them.

Bonus feature: I’ve just finished a working draft of the first Azrael novel, and this story hints at a few things that take place in the novel.

Bonus bonus feature: The issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies also contains a new Bone and Gaunt story by Chris Willrich, “On Magog’s Pond.” If you know Willrich’s writing you’ll be as excited about this as I was. If you haven’t read Willrich yet, then you’re in for a treat.

Bonus bonus bonus feature: The issue also opens up the BCS archives to republish Lavie Tidhar’s “Drowned God’s Heresy.” Does it get any better than this? No. No, it does not.

This marks the fifth Azrael story that Beneath Ceaseless Skies has published. If you’re curious about the order in which to read them, I’m partial to the order of publication.

The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse

The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies

The Angel Azrael Delivers Justice to the People of the Dust

The Angel Azrael Encounters the Revelation Pilgrims and Other Curiosities

The Angel Azrael and the War Ghosts

Please also check out the audio version of “The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies” with a new introduction I recorded for the story.

The Angel Azrael Murders Rest and Relaxation

I’m in that limbo between projects right now. I’ve finished a working draft of the third Cross book, and I’m waiting for edits of the second in the Cross series, The Dead Hamlets. I’ve been relaxing a little — see my earlier beach post — but I’m not the type to relax too long. So I decided to fill my down time with working on another book project. I’ve been thinking for a while about turning my angel Azrael gunslinger stories into a book, so I’ve started working on that. Today I finished the first draft of the fourth angel Azrael story (the third one will be out in a bit), and I’ve been outlining the book as a whole. I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it, but it doesn’t matter. At this point, it’s all about relaxing and having fun. Nothing like apocalyptic angel westerns to do that!

The angel Azrael just rode into town

My latest weird western story, “The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse,” just went live at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. As I mentioned earlier, BCS is one of my favourite speculative fiction magazines because it gives a damn about the literary in literature. The stories it publishes are all over the map, and usually indescribable, but they’re always damned good.

Readers who only know me through my novels Please and The Warhol Gang may be a bit surprised to discover I’ve written a weird western. In fact, it’s not the first weird western I’ve published. My story “The Fourth Horseman” won On Spec‘s story of the year award a few years back, and I’ve got another weird western that I’ve just finished and I’m looking to place now. I’ve also got a few other spec lit stories coming out in the near future, including a Cthulhu superhero story. Yeah, you read that right. But more on that later.

If you’ve checked out any of my other stories, though, you’ll know I have a taste for the fantastic or magic realism or spec lit or whatever you choose to call it. For instance, “We Continue to Pray for Something to End Our Prayers,” which you can read for free at This magazine, or “Beat the Geeks” (Kindle version here), “Has the World Ended Yet?” (Kindle version here) or “Deja Yu Makes the Pain Go Away” (Kindle version here). What can I say — I hate the world we live in….

Anyway, thanks to the generosity of the good people at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, you can read “The Angel Azrael” for free online, although you can also buy the issue, which includes a story by Marissa Lingen, for 99 cents on Kindle. And, of course, it’s free to subscribe to BCS.

The angel Azrael will soon ride into town on a dead horse

I’ve been writing short stories lately while working on the revisions of the new novel. A few of them have already found homes with publications and will be out shortly. I’m thrilled to announce I’ll have a short story in the Aug. 25 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, one of the top speculative fiction magazines. It’s also one of my favourite magazines, because it’s “dedicated to publishing the best in literary adventure fantasy,” with an emphasis on the literary. And let’s face it, spec fiction isn’t always known for being literary, which frustrates the hell out of me, if no one else. I grew up on writers like Roger Zelazny and Steven Brust, who care as much about the craft of writing as the plot and characters, and that’s the approach I take with my own fiction. So I’m really honoured to be published in BCS, and I’m just glad there’s a place like that for anachronisms like me.

Oh yes, the story is called “The Angel Azrael Rode into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse.” It’s a weird western featuring fallen angels, risen demons, vampires, zombies, and an assortment of other oddities. Think High Plains Drifter meets Mike Mignola and you’ll have an idea of what it’s about.

More on the other stories to come.

The Angel Gunslinger Azrael Rides Again!

I’m thrilled to announce I’ve published another tale of the angel gunslinger Azrael over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies! Azrael and his dead horse are back in the weird western “The Angel Azrael Encounters the Revelation Pilgrims and Other Curiosities.” Ride with them for a time as Azrael attempts to take a dead woman’s bible through the badlands to her kin, only to encounter a curious collection of pilgrims, a murderous gang of half angels and one very strange… well, that would be giving it away.

I’m deeply grateful to the guidance of BCS editor Scott Andrews not only for publishing my Azrael stories but for helping me to more fully realize the character of Azrael and his world. When I wrote the first Azrael story, “The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse,” I didn’t really have more in mind than a one-off weird west story in between my other projects. But Azrael kept on riding into my imagination after that first story, and BCS kept publishing his tales, and now I’m finishing my first Azrael novel. I don’t think any of that would have been possible without BCS and Scott’s insightful editing. 

And, of course, the angel Azrael tales wouldn’t have been possible without readers such as yourself. Thanks for journeying along with Azrael and me on these wanderings. I hope you’ll continue to ride with us for a time.

If you’re new to the Azrael stories, you can read them for free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies:

The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse

The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies

The Angel Azrael Delivers Justice to the People of the Dust

The Angel Azrael Encounters the Revelation Pilgrims and Other Curiosities

Bonus feature: Check out the audio version of “The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies” with a new introduction I recorded for the story!

(Make sure you also read Patty Templeton’s “A Nickel for the Burlap Man,” which is in the same issue as “The Angel Azrael Encounters the Revelation Pilgrims and Other Curiosities.” It’s a hell of a tale.)

Azrael rides into a BCS anthology

I’m thrilled beyond belief that my first Azrael story, “The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse,” has been included in The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies Online Magazine, Year Three. Every issue of BCS is a must-read for me, so this is a real honour — and I’m delighted to be in the company of such a group of gifted writers. Check out the anthology for their weird and wonderful tales if not mine.

Best of all, it’s only $3.99, and if you order it before Oct. 19 from Weightless Books, you get the Best of BCS, Year One and the Best of BCS, Year Two for free.

Of angels and mercy

My new weird western featuring the fallen angel gunslinger Azrael has gone live over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This one’s called “The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies” and it’s a bit nasty. It’s a sequel to the first Azrael story, “The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse,” which BCS also published. Bonus feature: There’s an audio version, complete with sound effects. And yes, there are more Azrael stories on the way.

While you’re checking out BCS, do read the other story in the current issue, “Beyond the Shrinking World,” by Nathaniel Katz. I don’t even know how to describe it, which is a compliment for me, but imagine if Borges were a fantasy writer, and you’ll have an idea. (OK, OK, I know Borges was a fantasy writer in a lot of ways….)

Here’s the intro for “Small Mercies”:

The angel Azrael surveyed the remains of the town. The place was as dead as the horse he sat on. Broken Whiskey hadn’t been much before the end came, and it was even less now. The buildings were charred ruins and the air so much smoke and ash. Whatever hell had been visited upon the townsfolk, it had been devastating and complete.
And recent. So recent, in fact, the bodies of the men and women that decorated the buildings and streets, as if thrown there by a wayward child, were still largely untouched by animals and insects alike. Although the pair of buzzards that followed Azrael everywhere were circling lower in the sky, doing their own surveying.
The mayhem didn’t spook Azrael’s horse any more than it spooked him. Nothing had spooked it since he’d raised it from the dead. The horses of the men with him, on the other hand, were as skittish as if they smelled hellspawn on the wind. Maybe they did. But Azrael reckoned it was more likely the opposite of hellspawn that had done this.
One of the men spat on the ground and the moisture sizzled away. The earth was still smoking hot in patches from the damnation that had happened here. None of the men said anything. They all watched Azrael without really looking at him. They drummed their fingers on their saddles and the butts of their guns, but they waited for him to speak. They had enough sense to be wary around an angel.
Azrael nodded. “This is indeed the work of one of the seraphim,” he said.
“What in all the hells is a seraphim?” the man who’d spat asked.
“He means an angel, you fucking coal-eater,” one of the others said. The man who’d first stopped Azrael on the road with a cross in one hand and a pistol in the other. As though either would have meant anything to Azrael if he’d declined to ride with the man and his friends to investigate their tale of a winged woman raining destruction down from the skies. Azrael had gone along with them more out of curiosity than anything else. He’d smelled the towns burning long before the man with the cross had ridden out of the horizon toward him. And it had been a long time since he’d encountered another angel. There were few of his kind left now. This world ground everything down to dust eventually, even the Fallen.
The other man just spat again, showing his opinion on the difference between the words, or maybe just his opinion of angels in general.
Azrael knew the truth was there was a legion of abominations that could have turned this place into the hell it had become for its inhabitants. But he could see things the mortal men around him couldn’t. Or maybe he just saw the same things in different ways. He could tell from his first glance that it was an angel responsible for this massacre. He even knew which one.
“Can you kill it?” another of the men asked. The one with all the scars. The only one besides Azrael who looked at the bodies and didn’t wince or turn his head away. Not that there was anywhere to look where there weren’t bodies.
“Everything dies in the end,” Azrael said. Something he’d read once in a book.
“What’s your price to stop this abomination?” the last man asked. The one who wore the fine suit and held the cloth to his nose. The one whose purse clinked with the weight of coins.
“You can’t afford me,” Azrael said, which was true in its own way. He looked away from the ruin of the town and out into the wasteland beyond. How many more towns out there like this one?
“All the money you want,” the man with the coins said. “Women. Whiskey. Name your price. And don’t tell me you don’t have one, because everything does.”
“A thousand years from now, this town would have been dust anyway,” Azrael said. He’d seen it before. All the works of men and gods were dust in the end. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.
“We’ll give you your own damned town to destroy if that’s what you want,” the man who’d first stopped him said. “As long as the others get left alone by you and your kind.”
Azrael saw the logic in that. What was the price of one town if it meant saving dozens more? Even if a dozen had already been lost. What was the price to stave off destruction for a few more decades or centuries? But it wasn’t a town of his own he wanted. If that had been the case, he would have taken what he wanted. And no one would have been able to stop him any more than the dead all around them had stopped the other angel.
Azrael didn’t say anything, and the day lengthened into stillness. They watched the buzzards feed on a man impaled on the church spire.
“Hell, you can have my soul if you’re so inclined,” the one with the scars finally said. “For all the good it’ll do you.”
Azrael nodded. “I’ll do what I can,” he said. “But I make no oaths.”
They all looked at him. The man with the scars chewed the inside of his lip for a moment, then nodded himself.
“Fair enough,” he said.
“I don’t need any payment,” Azrael said. “I just wanted to know there was still someone worth doing this for.”
With that, he turned his dead horse away from the town and rode out into the wasteland. Somewhere out there was the angel Erafel.

Azrael rides on

Good news on the angel Azrael front. I’ve written a couple of sequels since the fallen angel first rode onto the scene with “The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse.” That story was published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, my favourite spec lit journal, and they’ve just agreed to publish one of the new Azrael stories, “The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies.” All I’ll say about it now is it’s much nastier than the first story. More to come when I have a pub date.

New Azrael story on the way

I really enjoyed writing the first Azrael story and I had lots of wonderful feedback from readers, so I wrote a sequel. It’s tentatively titled “The Angel Azrael Passes Judgment on the People of the Dust.” It’s still in early draft form — I need to add more bloodshed and mayhem to live up to the title — but it’s in pretty good shape. I’ll let you know when I find a home for it. In the meantime, do check out my Lovecraftian superhero story.

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