August 5, 2011
A fierce stab of pride and love shot through Sarah as she watched Gabriel step toward Michael. With his blonde hair tousled over his forehead and his wings stretched taunt on either side of his shoulders, he took her breath away. He was smaller than Michael – much smaller – but he was muscled and sinewy, and she felt a strength radiating from him that the other angel lacked. She breathed deeply through her nose, inhaling his determination.
And this is the one they say went bad, she thought.
She felt Tawny’s hands on her arm and reached down to help her friend stand.
Her white dress torn and hanging precariously by one shoulder strap, Tawny pushed her disheveled red locks from her face and stared as Michael and Gabriel circled each other.
Tawny pointed and whispered shakily, “Your boyfriend has wings.”
Although she was trembling with fear, Sarah smiled. “Yeah. He does.”
“Will he save us?”
Sarah turned and the women stared at each other. “I believe so,” was all Sarah could say. She hoped she was right.
They both gasped as the first clash of swords split the air with the force of a lightening strike. The vault of clouds overhead flashed orange and yellow in sympathy.
Gabriel took a staggering step back under the force of Michael’s blow and managed to raise his sword again just in time to parry the next strike. He was suddenly aware of how terribly overmatched he was. Michael is a warrior, his mind screamed. Michael was made for this.
The Archangel Michael continued to move forward, landing blow after blow against the sword that Gabriel only just managed to raise in time to defend himself. Again and again he struck, driving Gabriel back until the weaker angel stumbled and fell to one knee.
Michael lowered his sword in disgust. “You’re a fool, brother,” he said angrily. “Do you want to die like this? Do you want to die in defense of – of what? Humans?”
Gabriel staggered to his feet. He gestured at Michael. “Come again,” he urged.
With a low growl, Michael advanced again, swinging his sword powerfully again and again. The crowd of demons drew back with a cry as Gabriel was driven into their midst and once again stumbled to his knees.
“There,” Michael shouted. “That’s where you belong, among the Dark Ones!”
Az slithered over and helped Gabriel to his feet. “Dude, he is so gonna kill you,” the demon muttered.
Gabriel put out a hand and pushed Asmodeus away. “I’ve got this,” he panted.
“You’ve got this?” Az flapped his hands in disgust. “You’ve got your ass in a sling is what you’ve got.”
“Come forward then,” Michael bellowed. He held his arms out to either side, leaving himself open for a blow. “Come then, Fallen Brother!”
Gabriel rushed forward, striking his sword against Michael’s armored breast. The force of the blow almost knocked the blade from his hands, but Michael barely flinched.
Michael reached out and grasped Gabriel by the back of the neck, flinging the angel aside like a rag. He glowed with a blinding golden light as he stared at Gabriel. He swung his fiery sword in for a death blow which Gabriel only managed to partially block.
There was a searing pain across his bicep and Gabriel looked in wonder at the blood flowing from his shoulder.
“You even bleed like a human,” Michael said.
Gasping for breath, Gabriel managed to regain his feet and raise his sword as Michael came at him, striking again and again, once again driving him backward. The sky was on fire above them.
Michael drove Gabriel back into the crowd of demons and continued coming after him.
Gabriel stumbled against a wet mass and Leviathan hissed in his ear, “Hurry up and die. I have plans for the scarred woman.”
Crying out in fury, Gabriel brought his sword up to block Michael’s next thrust. He knocked the demon out of his way. “Get thee behind me,” he shouted.
Michael struck relentlessly, continuing to rain blows down against Gabriel’s upraised sword. “You should have listened to me,” the golden angel roared. “I tried to save you, Brother, but you wouldn’t listen.”
Gabriel braced himself against the blows as best he could. “Listen?” he shouted back at Michael. “Listen to you? You failed as a Guardian, Michael. You failed. You’re still failing.”
Another swing of Michael’s fiery sword and blood began to pour from a stinging wound across Gabriel’s chest. “I kept Sarah alive!” Michael roared. “And the dog, too!”
Tawny stared in horror as Michael worked Gabriel in a circle through the crowd of demons and back to the center of the fight. She groped for Sarah and the women clutched at each other’s hands. “He’s going to die,” Tawny cried.
On Sarah’s other side, Roni stepped forward, growling deep in his chest. Sarah put out a hand and restrained him. “No,” she said softly. “Not yet.”
She searched the crowd of angels beyond the fight and saw Shine. The little girl had lifted her hands and was praying fervently, her eyes squeezed shut.
Michael drove Gabriel to the ground in front of the archangels with a battery of thrusts and blows. He smiled grimly. “What a waste, Brother,” he growled. “All of this, for nothing. For nothing!”
Gabriel fought to keep his sword between him and Michael. He couldn’t catch his breath and blood was flowing freely from half a dozen wounds. He managed to raise his sword a final time, but Michael was too strong. The golden angel struck again and Gabriel’s sword fell clattering to the ground.
Gabriel looked up at Michael’s raised sword and felt a sickening sense of defeat. Shine, he thought miserably, Sarah! My loves and my life. I’m so sorry.
June 20, 2011
The Archangel Gabriel has just discovered why God forbade fraternization between angels and human women. Oops! It’s too late now, our angelic friend is in love.
In Christian theology, only mankind was given free will. Is Gabriel disobeying? Or is he traveling a preordained path?
May 23, 2011
Sarah follows Shine and the Archangel Gabriel back to their by-the-week apartment. Unable to turn them away, Gabe lets the young mystic and her dog into his rooms and into his life. Let’s hope it’s a decision he won’t regret.
May 20, 2011
The Archangel Michael pays a visit to the shabby rented rooms where Gabriel lives with his human child, Shine, and brings Gabe a message the disobedient angel doesn’t want to hear. The ante has just gone up considerably in Chapter 4 of “Heaven’s Shine”.
May 16, 2011
As if things weren’t complicated enough for the Archangel Gabriel, step into Chapter 3 where he meets a young mystic and her dog, both of whom see through his human disguise and recognize Gabriel for the heavenly creature that he is:
Heaven’s Shine, Chapter 3
May 6, 2011
(Originally published at joyfulonline.net.)
The seraph Af disrupted the order of Heaven on the day he stopped singing. One moment he was standing in his place around the throne as he had since the beginning, his voice blending into the jubilant heavenly choir, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven; all the earth is filled with His glory.” The next moment, a profound dissatisfaction descended on him. He opened his mouth to sing, but nothing came out.
Beside him, Israfil lowered one of his six wings and stared. “Holy, holy, holy,” the Burning One prompted. He raised a fiery eyebrow at his fellow seraph. “Holy is the Lord of Heaven.”
Af sighed. All of his wings rose and fell in a silent shrug.
Israfil reached over and tapped Hasmal. Startled, Hasmal followed Israfil’s gaze, looking around at Af. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven,” Hasmal sang. He met Israfil’s bewildered gaze and shook his head. “All the earth is filled with His glory.”
Concern over Af’s silence worked its way through the host of seraphim flanking the throne of God. One after another, each seraph tapped his neighbor and jerked his head toward Af. One after another, startled gazes of fire were exchanged until, like a child’s game of Operator, the seraph next to Metatron tapped that magnificent angel, second only to God Himself.
Metatron was so surprised that he stumbled over his words. “Ho-ho-er- holy,” Metatron sang. He eased out of formation and stood behind Af. He poked the lesser seraph with a sharp pinion. “All the earth is filled with His glory,” he urged.
Af flinched and lifted a wing to block Metatron’s face.
The chief seraph was stunned and for the first time since the Lord created all, Metatron’s voice fell silent. Without their leader to guide them, the other seraphim began to stumble over their words and the most holy liturgy, that which had been sung without cessation since the creation of light, began to falter. “Holy, holy – His glory – earth – la la la la…” Overhead, an infectious giggle rippled through the cherubim.
Gazardiel looked at Seraphiel, Cahethal flapped one pair of his wings at Kemuel; the liturgy broke down entirely as the choir of seraphim erupted into disordered shrieks. Random bursts of song swelled. “Holy, holy! All the earth! La la la la! The Lord of Heaven!”
The door to the heavenly vault flew open and God strode in, His hands clapped over His ears. “What’s going on here?” He shouted above the cacophony.
The seraphim stopped singing en masse. Not a sound was heard except the tittering of a cherub who couldn’t control his amusement.
God walked over to Metatron. “Is there a problem here?”
“Mo-o-o-s-t h-o-o-o-l – l – y Lord,” the chief seraph chanted.
The Creator winced and held up his hand. “Stop. Stop singing. Just tell me what the problem is.”
Discomfited, Metatron cleared his throat. “Most Holy Lord, I – “ He broke off and looked around. “Well, Creator of All – “ He stopped again. “Frankly, Magnificent and Delightful God, I’m not sure what the problem is. This seraph,” He poked Af with a pinion again. “This seraph stopped singing.”
God looked at Af. The seraph had pulled all six of his wings protectively around himself. “Af?” God prodded gently. He put His hand on the seraph and peered at Af’s face. “Do you want to tell Me what’s going on?”
Af shrugged and mumbled incoherently into his flaming feathers.
“What was that?” God asked, bending nearer.
The seraph ventured a timid glance and answered, “I don’t feel like singing.”
A gasp echoed through the seraphim. A cherub murmured overhead, “Uh, oh.”
God nodded thoughtfully and considered Af’s audacious statement. “You know, of course, that singing is what you do. It’s what the seraphim do.”
Af shrugged again. “I suppose so.”
“I hear a ‘but’ in there,” God prompted.
The seraph looked around at his league of fiery cohorts; then, gathering his courage, Af met the Lord’s gaze. “I’m tired of singing. That’s all I’ve ever done. Ever. You gave me three pairs of wings, but I’ve never flown. You gave me feet, but I’ve never stood on the ground. You gave me hands, but I’ve never touched another creature. It all seems like a big waste.”
Another gasp of horror rose up from the other angels. Somewhere in the background, the Archangel Michael snorted, “What a tool.”
God ignored the others. “Would you like to be something else, Af?”
Af nodded. “I’d like to be a bird.”
God held up His hands to quell the excited whispers filling the vault. “That’s quite a demotion, you realize.”
The Creator patted Af’s winged shoulder. “You’ll only have one pair of wings. I can’t let you keep all three pairs; that would cause too much of a stir down there.”
“One pair is fine,” Af assured God. His heart was already soaring.
The Lord nodded and Af was gone.
God paused for a moment on His way to the door and gestured at the remaining angels. “The rest of you, carry on.”
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven; all the earth is filled with His glory!”
Heaven once again filled with the glorious strains of the most holy choir as somewhere far below, a sparrow banked and ebbed above an ancient forest, and sang its new song of praise.