Andrew Weazle, the owner of a coffee shop trades the Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans', which cause a massive ash tree to grow overnight inside the shop. Following this miraculous weekend, Andrew leaves work in the company of a fatally attractive woman who turns out to be a succubus, a demon which steals human life force through sexual contact. Lara and Blackout rescue Andrew, but Lara soon discovers that what they thought was Andrew is a clever doppelganger in league with the succubus. The real Andrew has been in a state of coma, dreaming in the branches of the Tree...
Blackout had expected the emotion he felt upon finding Andrew would be elation. Instead, he found himself shifting between pity, helplessness, and a mounting horror. His friend was emaciated; a living skeleton. His eyes had fluttered open for a moment when Lara had bravely administered CPR, but they'd quickly closed and he'd curled into a fetal position. He reminded Blackout of pictures he'd seen of the guy they dug out of the bog in Europe.
"We need to get him to the Tree," Lara said sharply, pulling Blackout of his stupor.
"If he lives that long," Blackout said under his breath, and ran to the bedroom to tear sheets off the bed. It was clear that Andrew's doppelganger didn't sleep. What did he need sleep for though, when he could drain the vitality of those around him? First Andrew, and then the Tree.
"It is a very dark and secret line of midrashic legend surrounding the tales of the Nephilim," said Cooper, after Blackout and Lara had sat back down in his office, the door safely shut behind them. "The Lilitu are said to have been the demon spawn of Lilith...the first wife of Adam."
"I thought Adam's wife was named Eve."
"In Jewish Legend, Eve is Adam's second wife. The first was made from the same clay as Adam, and refused to give him children. There are also legends that say she was not created at all, but was rather part of the Chaos that existed before God created the heavens and the earth. Whatever her origin, she is said to be the mother of the lilitu...and the consort of Samael, a fallen angel. Their children are said to have had sexual intercourse with humans, prior to the flood...it was one of the acts which enraged God enough to destroy the world in a deluge. These children were called the Nephilim, which means 'those who cause others to fall.' To fall in fear and terror at the sight of them."
"So what does any of this have to do with Andrew's double?" Lara asked.
"Human females who produced Nephilim did so through normal childbirth, which purportedly always ended in their death. The demon females who took the seed of human males used it to craft a special type of golem...one that would resemble the 'sperm donor' in every way possible...even memories. As a result, these golem were not stupid, shambling clay hulks, but terrible mockeries of their twin. They would replace that person in society, given that they derived their power from consuming the original."
"Consuming? As in eating them?" Lara had asked, her face white as a sheet.
"That is how many have interpreted the passages in the book of Enoch about the Nephilim, but the word used there is akal, which is used both for eating, as well as fire devouring its fuel. There is a little known midrash which supposes that akal, used in reference to the Nephilim, referred to their ability to drain the strength of others."
Blackout and Lara sat, gaping.
"When you say it could drain others, what would happen to this strength?" Blackout stammered.
"It would add to their own. It is why the Nephilim are reputed to be the heroes of old. As they drained others' strength, they grew in might and power."
"Could they drain other things than humans?" Lara asked.
"They were said to be a blight upon the land. I would guess that they were able to take power from the earth itself...plant, animal...whatever had ruach, or life within it."
There had been an uncomfortable silence, and then Dr. Cooper had risen and opened a glass display case at the top of a bookshelf. He withdrew a beautiful, golden piece of jewelry.
"This is an amulet, inscribed with the names of three angels... Jewish parents who believe in the lilitu placed them around the necks of newborn boys in order to protect them from the demons until they were circumcised." "The lilitu can't attack men who are circumcised?" Blackout asked, his face brightening up. "That is correct," said Dr. Cooper.
"Score!" Blackout had shouted, standing up and raising his arms in the air before realizing what he was doing. Lara was looking at the floor and stifling a nervous laugh.
Dr. Cooper handed the amulet to Lara. "Obviously, your friend here doesn't need this. But you might." Lara looked up into Dr. Cooper's face, trying to form words to explain everything. "I don't know what's going on, and I'm not really sure I want to," he said. "But neither of you asked the sort of questions students writing papers do. You both sounded like you were looking for a survival manual. I don't have anything like that, but I do have this amulet. Just bring it back when you're done with it. It's been in my family for a very, very long time." He had stopped them once again at the door. "I should add that the amulet will do nothing to protect you from the Nephilim."
Blackout shuddered. He had seen the Ur-Andrew when he and Lara had dropped by the shop, under the pretense that Lara had lost her i-pod and thought she might have left it in the staff room. Real Andrew had a slim build; big enough shoulders, but not much meat on the bones. The Nephilim looked like Andrew on steroids. Every move he made strained the shirt he was wearing, and it appeared that he'd gained an inch or two in height. He certainly wasn't fooling anyone with his 'recovering sick guy' act anymore. He had noticed Blackout staring at him, and raised an eyebrow.
"Something bothering you Mark?" the faux Andrew had asked, a hint of menace in his voice.
"I was just noticing...it, uh, looks like you've been hitting the gym," Blackout said.
"Yeah," Not-Andrew said, his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I figured it would help me recover from...everything that happened."
"Sure," Blackout replied. "Looking good buddy, looking good."
But Blackout was certain the Nephilim hadn't bought it. The way he'd looked at Lara when she'd emerged from the back room, his eyes cold and staring, Blackout was pretty sure he knew they were onto him. At least that they figured something was up.
"Was Julie there?" Blackout asked.
Lara nodded. "She was sitting in the back room, looking through this really old book. Had all sorts of calligraphy or hieroglyphics or some shit. Diagrams with inverted pentagrams, the classic Satanist shit. Like it was the fucking Necronomicon or something." She was wide eyed, and shaking a bit. "I told her I was looking for my I-pod, and she said she hadn't seen it, and I pretended to look around a bit. She didn't even close the book. Like she could have cared less that I saw her reading it."
"Andrew...I mean...the Nephilim was pretty bold too. It's like they know we're onto them."
"Yeah, that's what I thought too," Lara said, "But they don't care, because they're close to doing whatever it is they're going to do..."
"And they think we can't stop them," Blackout finished.
"What do we do now?" Lara said.
"We need to go and find the real Andrew," Blackout said.
"You think he's still alive?"
"I don't know," Blackout replied, heading towards the downtown. "But if he is and we don't search every inch of that apartment for him...I don't think he'll be of much use to them once they've done whatever it is they're going to do."
Breaking into Andrew's apartment was getting to be old hat. They'd smashed the lock and entered without much effort, then quickly turned the apartment upside down; Andrew was in the apartment's tiny storage room on a sleeping bag, naked. His breathing was shallow when they entered the room, his body convulsing in little twitches. Then suddenly, without warning, he had gasped, and stopped breathing entirely. Lara had acted quickly, administering CPR as gently as she could, given Andrew's emaciated, palsied state. He'd started breathing again, his eyes had flickered open, and he whispered, "It was so much brighter over there..." before lapsing back into unconsciousness.
All the events of the day were rushing through Blackout's mind as he carried Andrew's frail body, wrapped in a blankets, towards the back stairs of the apartment. Lara was holding the door open for him, looking over his shoulder, when her eyes went wide and she screamed at Blackout, "RUN!"