A few days ago, I came across this meme about Adam, Eve, and Lilith. I had heard the name Lilith before, but had no real knowledge of who she was in the grand scheme of things, so reading the meme was kind of eye opening.
Of course, I don’t take things at meme-value, so I Googled it and ended up on this page, which compiles a history of Lilith’s mythology, stretching back to the days of Babylon. Tons of information just on that one page there. It’s a fascinating (long) read, if you have the time.
Anyway, the tale inspired the next story in my Here There Be Monsters series, which I now share with you in its first draft, unedited form.
It was the owl’s screech. It always gave her away. Adam pulled Eve to a halt, stepped up to shield her as he scanned the shadows for the shape as familiar to him as his own.
Eve clutched at his sleeve, huddling against this back. “Adam? What’s wrong?”
He stood a little taller at the hint of vulnerability in her cultured voice. They shouldn’t have come this way. In the distance, faint music and human voices carried on the wind as that filthy carnival freak show on the edge of town began to close its gates for the night. The crowds would spill through the streets, poisoning the air with scandalized chatter about what they’d seen there. “Let’s go this way,” he said, herding Eve down a side street toward a well-lit square.
And all the while, his gaze roamed the rooftops and the skies above. Winged blights always descended from above, like a slap in the face of God Himself. He could sense her now, close enough that he ought to be able to see her. Where are you, you bitch?
“Adam, slow down!” Eve tugged at his arm, forcing him to slow and Adam gritted his teeth and just prevented his hand from shattering the delicate bones in hers.
“I want to get back home,” he grated. “Now.”
“Yes I can see that.”
Then why was she stalling?
The owl screeched again and Adam’s heart leapt painfully. He craned his neck back to look straight up, heedless of his top hat falling to the ground. Ignoring Eve’s gasp, he strained his eyes to see shades of black in the canopy of clouds. Too much light to see shadows. Too much shadow to see shapes of any kind. The devil’s hour had always been her most favorite time of day or night.
“Show yourself!” he demanded.
A bold, feminine chuckle drifted back in answer, curling around him like a lover’s embrace.
Adam began to sweat. Eons of wandering the Earth, thousands of deaths and rebirths, forgetting everything each time, but he never forgot her.
At the far end of the street, a figure stepped out from around the corner in the smooth, gliding motion of a being not of this world. There was no weight to her; she was unaffected by the physical confines of her shape. She cast no shadow, made no sound on the hard cobblestone. Her dress didn’t rustle, and her long black hair never stirred in the wind.
Adam could not see her face, but he felt her gaze on him. His skin turned hot even as his insides went cold.
“What do we do?” Eve whispered. He could feel her trembling against his back, yet she clung to him with complete trust. As well she should. Despite her betrayal, Adam had never once failed to protect her. He did not intend to do it now.
“Stay here, and don’t make a sound.” Against her protests, Adam set her away and pulled a thin blade out of the sheath of his walking cane.
“Husband,” the creature crooned, “It’s been so long.”
Adam faltered. She’d spoken in English and Eve had hear her. He looked back at his wife and eternal companion, but saw only fear and confusion in her eyes. Eve had never and, if Adam had any say in it, would never know about the one who’d come before her. There was no reason. After tonight, there would be no need, either.
Clutching his weapon, he faced his nemesis once more and advanced.
The creature waited with ungodly patience for him to come close enough. When he did, the streetlamp above her blazed to light and she smiled. Adam lost his breath at the sight. Time had not changed her in the smallest way. She stood of a height with him, her unrestrained raven hair draping over her back and shoulders. Her dark skin gleamed as if burnished with gold in the muted light, her dark, sinful eyes mocking him from a face more beautiful than any human woman could be. Far more so than even Eve.
But when the light hit her just so, her features transformed, revealing the white skull she wore as a demonic mask, and her bare arms bloomed with dark symbols. A shadow of great wings obscured the light as they stirred the air into motion before they settled like a cloak against her back. And still, the temptation she presented was almost more than Adam could bear. The scent of her took him back to the very beginning, when the sun had been hot, and the ground had been soft, and only the two of them had existed, basking in the glory of God’s creation.
It was Adam’s eternal curse to remember it all with such visceral intensity that for a moment, he forgot where and when he was. Being this close to her, he could almost feel God’s presence again, and it filled him with a terrible yearning for Him.
And an even stronger one for her. She’d been made for him. She’d always been meant to be his.
“Do you remember me?” she asked.
Adam nodded, taking another step forward with more caution this time.
“Then say my name.”
“Lilith,” he said, shivering again the same way he had when he’d spoken it for the very first time.
Her smiled widened cruelly. When she spoke again, it was in a language he had not heard since he’d been cast out of Eden. It was a song, a feeling that seeped into his mind, conveying meaning directly to his soul. It called to him, offered him everything–but demanded the same in return. Touch for touch, word for word, pleasure for pleasure.
Adam could no longer reply the same way, and the pathetic limitations of human speech made a mockery of his words. “I was not enough for you.”
She hissed a response as harsh as a blast of the desert wind. It shamed him with the memory of what he’d done, forced him to his knees, and Adam ground his knuckles into the stone to force it all back so he could think–so he could breathe.
“You were the one who betrayed me!” he roared. “All you had to do was obey–”
“I was not made to be your toy!” she screamed right back, her wings snapping open with the force of a gale. Behind Adam, Eve cried out, but he barely heard her over Lilith’s rage.
“You broke God’s edict and He punished you for it,” he shouted.
All at once, the night became still, and Adam looked up to find Lilith kneeling before him. Mirroring him. Knee to knee, nose to nose. She looked him directly in the eye, and he drowned in those hot depths. When she spoke again, her voice was accompanied by a soul song that shattered him. “Oh, my darling fool. After so many centuries, how could you still be so blind? Look at us. God’s justice stares you right in the eye and still you don’t see it.”
Her soft hand brushed across his cheek. He was cocooned in her scent, and his body swayed toward her, as it had always done, longing to take her, as he’d always been meant to do.
He despised her for it.
“For what you did, God banished you from His Grace forever. For what I did, He gave me wings, and eternal freedom.”
“No,” he rasped, out of breath. God would not have rewarded her for spurning Adam. She was a demon now, it was her nature to deceive. Lies dripped from her perfect lips like poison, each one staining his soul. “You spoke His name.”
“I called to Him to save me,” she returned, then leaned in to whisper against his lips, “From you.” Her song grew jagged, carrying echoes of pain and fear that tore into him until his very soul bled.
“Demon,” he accused, clutching his weapon so tightly the blade scraped over cobblestone. “What do you want from me?”
Lilith tilted her head sideways as the world shifted and time seemed to stop. Another gust of wind heralded the appearance of another of her ilk, a hulking beast wrapped in leather armor, a great sword strapped to his back between his wings. His eyes glowed with fire, his face was hard, as if carved from granite. His hands were tipped with claws and his legs were shaped like an animals, his talons digging into the ground to anchor him when even his massive weight seemed too insubstantial to keep him from floating back up into the air.
Lilith smiled, her gaze turning distant and fond. Then she looked at Adam again, and her expression turned hard, her demon mask flickering over her features. “I was sent by God to test you,” she said.
Adam couldn’t move. His limbs became too heavy to lift, his body frozen immobile, but he could still speak. “More lies,” he spat.
“No lies,” Lilith replied. “Only a question. Are you ready to repent?”
“Repent? I loved you!”
“You loved yourself far more. Are you ready to repent?”
“I’ve done nothing! I followed God’s law. It was you who–”
“God never told you to rape me. Are you ready to–”
“You were made for me!”
“I WAS MADE WITH YOU!” she thundered and the ground shuddered beneath him. Her companion drew his sword, taking a single step toward them, but with that one step, the blade burst into flames. He snarled, baring his sharp fangs in warning, and Lilith asked again, “Are you ready to repent?”
A bitter laugh made Adam quiver. “I am plagued by the Devil’s whores. You won’t best me tonight, Demon.” He gritted his teeth, bore down and wrenched his will free of her control. With a roar, he brought his hand up, burying his blade in her side.
Lilith gasped, her mask fading away as her eyes widened in shock. Blood seeped out from her wound, not red like a human’s, but glittering gold. She touched it with a quivering fingertip, then raised it up to eye level between them.
Her companion roared soundlessly, shaking the world itself as Lilith listed sideways. He caught her as she fell, and time sprang back into motion. Freed from their power, Adam shot to his feet, tripping and falling all over himself as he raced for Eve. He took her hand and kept running, pulling her along after him as fast as the weight of her skirts would allow. When she tripped, he picked her up and kept going until the ground stopped shaking and the first hint of sunlight appeared in the east.
Only then did Adam stop to set Eve on her feet. Her hair was disheveled, her face red and stained with tears. She wept and begged for answers, an explanation. He had none to give. Shaking from head to toe, he drew her into his arms, taking succor from the way she clung to him, supported him when his legs turned weak with the realization of what he’d done.
God would forgive him, perhaps even welcome him back into Eden for finally slaying the demon bitch, but if the police found her body, Adam would be executed. The blade was carved with his family crest; they’d trace it back to him by nightfall.
He didn’t care. It was finally over now. The eternal blight was ended, and he’d been the one to end it. Adam was alive, Eve was safe, and the world was right again. He took a bracing breath and pushed to his feet, frowning at the colorful tents and carriages arranged in a spiral just beyond the tall iron gates. They were in front of the carnival freak show.
An eerie chill crept up his spine as a man appeared just far enough for his face to be obscured. He was watching them, waiting for something.
Adam put his arm around Eve’s quivering form and led her away, back toward home.
Lilith opened her eyes and sat up, still nestled in Samael’s arms. He was upset with her for allowing Adam to harm her, but that had been the test. And Adam had failed it. After so many lifetimes, cursed to be reborn to Earth again and again, forever denied the succor of God’s favor, he’d still learned nothing. He’d still rather bury a blade in Lilith’s heart than acknowledge her as his equal.
Samael helped her to her feet, and by the time he let go of all but her hand, Lilith was fully healed and back to her strength. She smiled at her beloved, reassured him that all was well, and neither of them would ever have to deal with her first husband again.
A question shivered through her as she retrieved the top hat Adam had lost. She answered in the way of humans. “God can only forgive if his children repent. Adam refused. He still believes my body, my existence was his due all along.”
Samael took the hat from her and settled it on her head. He nodded in silent approval of her trophy and she smiled, loving this savage part of him as much as the gentle side he showed when he pulled her into his strong arms. Another question came to her in the form of a silent whisper.
“He’s no longer God’s concern,” she replied. “Let Lucifer deal with him now.” But a sigh escaped her before she could stop it.
Samael drew back to look into her eyes.
“Do I regret it? No.” She looked over her shoulder to where the cursed human couple had run off. “But I ache for her. She’s not like me. She was created for Adam–from him–and she’s not whole without him. And now she’ll have to spend an eternity of lifetimes seeking a man who no longer exists in her world.”
What a sad, hard fate for Eve, to have been created flawed, and then punished eternally for that flaw.
Lilith put her arms around Samael and laid her cheek upon his chest to feel the vibrant life and light inside him. “Let’s go home.”