I’m delighted to be welcoming T. Frohock to the site today! She’s been on my radar as an author to watch ever since I read her debut novel Miserere: An Autumn Tale, and I was excited when I first heard the news that she was publishing a new series, Los Nefilim, earlier this year. In Midnight’s Silence is an intriguing first installment in this series: it is dark without being overly grim, features angels who look but do not act the part, and has a compelling, complex main character who faces difficult choices throughout the course of this novella. The second book in the series, Without Light or Guide, recently became available, and the third, The Second Death, will be released next year.
ANGELS AND DAIMONS AND THE SUPERNATURAL WORLD OF LOS NEFILIM
It’s weird the things we remember from our childhood. For example, I have a lot of memory gaps. It’s like I have this Swiss cheese memory with giant black holes in sections.
But some recollections are perfectly clear, and I recall… odd things. I had two pictures hanging on my bedroom wall. One was a 3-D wall-hanging of a skunk with an incredibly fluffy tail that I liked to touch. I mean I would climb chairs to get to the skunk picture and run my fingers through that fur. The tail was made of fake fur, and was super soft, and I was only about five or six… don’t judge me.
Anyway, the whole point is the caption on the picture, which was “Confidentially, we’re all a bunch of stinkers.” And the caricature skunk was made to appear as if it was perpetually winking, like we were in on the joke—and this all sounds a lot creepier than it actually was—but I wasn’t in on the joke, primarily because, at that time, I didn’t fully comprehend the meaning of the word “confidentially.” I was old enough to put the letters together and know the word. I knew what “confidential” meant, but “confidentially” held some different, arcane meaning that simply eluded me.
Directly beside the skunk picture was one of those dimestore pictures of a guardian angel, watching over two children. You can still find these pictures online today. Two ragged children are crossing a treacherous bridge during the night—or a storm—anyway, it’s dark and scary. Standing over the children is an angel. She is a very pretty angel with long blonde hair, and wings, and unlike the children, she is clean and sparkly. Like the word “confidentially,” which belonged to the skunk, I couldn’t grasp the meaning, or maybe the purpose, of that guardian angel.
I mean she was there, and according to the Evangelical preachers I was exposed to as a child, angels were powerful creatures sent by God. So why the hell didn’t the angel save the kids?
This was a question I posited to my parents. Okay, I didn’t say “hell” but the implication was there. Our conversations would go something like this:
Me: “Why doesn’t she help the kids?”
Parental Unit: “She does help them. She prevents them from falling through the broken bridge.”
Me: “Yeah, but why are they on a broken bridge in the first place? And why doesn’t the angel help them get new clothes and make it so they don’t have to walk around barefoot in the dark? The least she could do is get the kids’ parents and make them take care of the kids.”
Parental Unit: “…”
Me: “I mean they’re just kids, and she’s an angel of God, why doesn’t she help them?”
And then my parents would provide me with a suitable distraction, and I would forget about the incompetent guardian angel until I was in bed and looking up at the picture in the glow of the nightlight. Unsatisfied with my parents’ responses, I would make up stories where the guardian angel swooped the kids into her arms and took them to a nice house where they would have chocolate and all the toys they wanted.
Looking back on this, I realize that sort of makes her like the angel of death, but that is a whole nother blog post.
Eventually, I grew up and discovered the meaning of “confidentially,” but the angel question remained in the back of my mind. During my adolescence, I turned to the preacher, whose explanations always devolved into IT IS GOD’S WILL. I always imagined GOD’S WILL as a great immovable wall.
So my questions about angels, like demons, hit the non-answer answer preferred by all Evangelical preachers: GOD’S WILL, or as I thought of it: the great immovable wall of ignorance.
Unfortunately, my education in angelology, like my education in demonology, would have to wait for college. In the halls of higher learning, I read the Bible for the first time, and I discovered the two different creation stories in Genesis. I also encountered the Watchers, who got in trouble for fooling around with mortal women and created a race of giants known as the Nephilim.
I hope you see where I’m going with this now.
Hmmm… said my brain, as it sometimes does at the worst possible moments. Hmmm…
Then I discovered the many pseudepigraphical works where the angels are discussed in great detail, such as The Book of Enoch, among others. There, I found that the angels weren’t these sweet ladies in long gowns with giant wings. The angels in these works were creatures of fire. Ezekiel’s ophanim weren’t even human in appearance. Depending on the source material, some angels had two sets of wings, and others had three sets, and some had four.
The cherubim weren’t cute toddlers with bows and arrows. They were described as terrible creatures with four faces. They never have to turn around because they can see in all directions at once, and they’re like monsters. Not something I’d consider comforting to anyone, much less children on a broken bridge on a dark and stormy night. In fact, most of them were quite horrific.
Hmmm… went my brain again.
Then I started playing around with various mythologies. A friend, who is Hindu, explained that in his religion, the gods and the demons were actually two different species. At that point, my brain went into overdrive.
I made up a story about the angels—kind of like the story I made up about the children and their guardian angel. Only this time, I wanted to find some explanation for the angels and the daimons. I deliberately avoided the spelling of “demons,” because I didn’t want my daimons to be confused with fallen angels. They aren’t the same thing. They are a different species entirely.
In my new mythology, the daimons began as the spirits of the earth, nature spirits and close in form to mortals. These spirits found they could draw sustenance from the mortals’ emotions.
Without the mortals to worship them, the daimons believed they would fade from mortal memory and cease to exist in the earthly realm. So the daimons worked magic and fulfilled the mortals’ requests, and in exchange, the mortals made sacrifices to the daimons and believed in them.
The angels were invaders from another realm. They came from the stars by parting the dimensions and discovered the earthly realms. At first, the daimons were suspicious of these newcomers, but the angels assured the daimons they had no use for mortals. After the angels first came, the three species (angel, daimon, and mortal) all lived in peace.
Then the angels began to move among the mortals, and the mortals fell in love with the angels. As they did, they ceased to make sacrifices to the daimons. The angels discovered they could drink the mortals’ adulation like nectar, and their powers grew, and as their powers grew so did their greed. The angels demanded more and more of the mortals’ attention, and the mortals began to forget the daimons.
One by one, the daimons began to die.
The King of the daimons gathered his forces and went to war with the angels in an attempt to drive them from the earthly realm. The angels tried to drown the daimons with a great flood. Instead, the angelic/daimonic war almost wiped the mortals from the earth. Rather than lose the sustenance required by both angel and daimon, the daimons submitted to the angels’ demand for a truce.
The angels and the daimons realized their great powers might destroy the very thing they needed to survive—the mortals. Both sides determined they would never openly war with one another again. Instead, angels and daimons coupled with mortals to create shadow armies of Nephilim. They sent their Nephilim to live among mortals and fight in their stead. And so began the cold war between the angels and the daimons, which goes on to this day.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
Although it could have.
Anything is possible in the realm of fiction where the immovable wall of ignorance becomes a sponge of what ifs. All of our myths can be absorbed and reshaped to fit new paradigms of thought. That is the beauty of fantasy. We are constrained by nothing but the limits of our imaginations. The power resides within us—the mortals—to shape both our world and our gods.
The beauty of my story is that you don’t even have to believe. Just believe that I believe, and I will show you a mythical world that lies just beyond our reach. Here there be angels and daimons, mortals who glimpse the unseen, and most importantly, Los Nefilim who are caught between.
T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse, and consists of the novellas In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death.