The Veil and Shadows

An Entry of Susi Speaks

“I told you to ask me next time we stopped,” Susi said absently as she leaned backwards in the car seat, feet resting on the dash.

“I’m bored, the music sucks out here, and you’re taking up half the backseat so I can’t nap. So, tell me about The Veil,” Sniper answered as she took a pull from her to-go cup.

Susi considered this for a moment, “Okay, sure, fine. I guess it’s pretty important since it’s how we keep from being seen by mortals. But I need to tell you about the shadows, first.”

Sniper shrugged her agreement.

“Glad to see you’re so enthused. Anyway, the shadows were left behind when The Gods created The Garden and The Plains. I’m not sure why, honestly, but it’s just there. It’s like a natural force.

“Devils are the only ones who can walk it, though. Maybe Angels, too, but I’ve never met an Angel.”

“You mean another Angel?” Sniper asked, her brow slightly cocked.

Susi wobbled her hand at Sniper in semi-agreement, “Anyway, shadows are really hard to walk in because they don’t really obey the rest of the rules that the universe likes to play by. Solids aren’t always solid, liquids aren’t always liquid, it’s weird. Time doesn’t move the same, either. And gravity is pretty much a negotiable concept.

“Problem is, you go crazy in there if you’re left for too long. Even Devils. That’s why I tried to drop you in there when we first fought. Figured it would be a quick way to ditch you.”

Sniper rubbed the back of her head, “Yeah, that was fun, thanks. I thought I was going to hurl in there.”

“Kid, if I left you in there for much longer your brains would have melted out of your nose and you’d have become a gibbering mess of crazy and pooped pants,” Susi noted with a wicked grin. “Anyway, shadows are useful for quick travel or getting the drop on people, but don’t stay too long.”

Sniper nodded, “Sure. Now how does this effect The Veil?”

“Getting to that. You’re a nosy little thing, aren’t you?”

Sniper shrugged.

“So, The Veil is an effect of the shadows. It’s like…a bleed over, or something, my uncle explained it to me once. It was super technical. Short version is, because of the shadows, mortals tend to not notice things that belong to the other side.

“Shadows obscure things unless you’re willing to look it in it’s face. A Demon’s tail snakes out, people don’t flip out unless they really look for it. And Mortals rarely look for stuff like that unless they’re unveiled.”

“Unveiled?” Sniper asked.

“Yeah, you. Unveiled. You see things clearly. You know about Demons and Devils and Gods and all that crap that most Mortals think is fantasy. Some people get there on their own, spend time with a Demon, realize that they’re more than they let on, then they start noticing other stuff.

“Others fall into it like a tall walk off a little pier,” Susi pointed to Sniper with the last statement.

Sniper considered this silently for a moment, then asked, “Why don’t The Gods stop people from finding out?”

Susi shrugged, “Not their problem.”

Sniper frowned and stared out her window, “Hunter said that they can’t get involved, but then people who don’t know better die.”

Susi watched as Hunter glanced in the rear-view briefly before turning his eyes back to the road.

“I…don’t really know what happened between The Gods. But it was bad. There were four of them once, now there’s only three. I guess. I don’t know. But they have rules, now, I don’t know them all. I don’t understand them all. I don’t think we’re able to. But they follow those rules really carefully. Bend them, maybe, but they’d never break them.

“There’s one big one I know though: You Shalt Not Muck About with Free Will.”

“‘Muck About.'” Sniper repeated flatly.

Susi leaned back, “Not the exact wording. I don’t know what happened, or how it happened, but Gods don’t mess with Mortals unless the Mortal looks for messing. And even then there’s a whole bunch of rules that govern what they do and how they do it. I know the rules are flexible in some ways, but the big one is that the Gods will not mess with free will.

“And that means they don’t expose mortals to this side of The Veil intentionally. Because once they’re Unveiled, they’re pretty much free-game for any thing else on the other side of that veil. At least when they’re Veiled, they’re as protected as they can be from things like us.”

Sniper frowned, but nodded slowly. She didn’t like the answer, but it made enough sense, “Why don’t Demons need to follow that rule, though?”

Susi seemed to consider this for a moment before answering, “The unveiled follow similar rules, actually, but since all the unveiled are kind of sideways related to mortals it’s different.”

“‘Sideways Related’? What does that mean?”

“Well, you’re a Mortal, right? But you’re unveiled. Reapers were totally Mortal, at one point. Demons are bred from your emotion, so they’re kind of Mortal in a weird round-about way,” Susi chewed the inside of her cheek, like she was deciding what was okay to say. “Devils we’re, well, more regulated but we still die and are kind of Mortal if you define ‘Mortal’ as someone with and expiration date…”

Snipe frowned, “That’s the other thing I don’t get, what exactly is the difference between Devils and Demons. I get Devils are more powerful, but why?”

“We live super long. I thought I told you that last time,” Susi responded as she leaned back in her chair.

“Living a long time doesn’t make you stronger,” Sniper responded, frowning.

Susi gave a shrug and tilted her head away from Sniper and attempted to nap. A clear, if not aggravating sign to Sniper that the conversation was over for now.