Art by Melissa Mead
L is for Luminous
by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Greg van Eekhout
The main problem was, she got more and more luminous.
My wife and I were one of the great husband-and-wife burglar teams: she circumvented locks and alarms, using social engineering to find codes for the simpler security systems, and composing devastating verbal logic bombs to make the newer AI systems go into a recursive loop of insanity and shut down.
And me? I could tell a fake diamond from a real one at a glance, calculate the current value of a bar of gold just by hefting it in my hands, and sweep through a luxury townhouse as fast and efficiently as a swarm of locusts tearing through a field.
Everything was going great--we were stealing mostly because it kept the marriage lively, not because we needed more money--until one night we were interrupted during our invasion of a vacation home whose occupants were passed out drunk around the hot tub. Just as we opened the back door, an angel appeared, in the usual coruscating whirlwind of light, with that celestial hum that makes your tongue go numb. We think it was Pammon, who was angel of the sixth hour of the night before he went wild. My wife and I did all the things you're supposed to do to scare wild angels away--blasphemies, imitation glossolalia, barking like a three-headed dog, spitting--but none of those are really much good, and Pammon bit my wife on the arm with one of the ten thousand mouths on one of his ten thousand faces before scurrying off into the night sky.
I hurried my wife home, keeping an eye on her arm, because the effects of angel bites are so unpredictable--there was a chance the limb might turn to salt, or drop off and pursue its own destiny. Or the wound might become an opening to the Pit, providing a point of escape for very small demons. The infection might spread, driving my wife mad, or giving her the terrible clarity of the totally sane. Or the angel-sickness might send her on a weirdly specific crusade--to kiss every fish in the sea, or provide a full catalogue of the clouds, or eat every kind of sausage in the British Isles--before healing.