|Angels and Ministers of Grace
Author: Beppo PM
A slightly offbeat account of some rather unexpected supernatural goings-on, featuring a variety of ethereal and occult beings. Hecklers and other reviewers welcome!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Supernatural/Spiritual - Words: 1,513 - Reviews: 3 - Published: 10-19-04 - id: 1742309
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: I have no explanation for the piece. It's been clogging up my hard drive for a couple of years now, and I figured I should finally do something with it. Cheers!
Angels and Ministers of Grace
I'm just the caretaker. I work nights. Nothing fancy, I just make sure the sanctuary is vacuumed and the altar doesn't get dusty, and that's my job. Simple. It's peaceful. I like working at night, when there never seems to be anyone else around. The closest I get to other people is hearing the choir practicing sometimes. They're off in one of the far rooms, so I don't hear them very well, but when the entire place is absolutely silent, sound tends to carry. Nice effect.
I think if this was a few hundred years ago I would be a professional hermit. You know, religious but nuts, and people could come to me for advice. Like they don't already do that, right?
I don't know how they find me. I guess they can just tell when I'm around…I can tell when they're around, so I guess I really shouldn't be surprised if it works both ways. Anyway. Besides that. That's not what we're talking about here. One night, I'm lurking in the church like I usually do, and I hear pounding on the door. One of the big, dramatic doors to the outside, not one of the little functional inside doors. At any rate, this pounding seems somewhat frantic, so I trot on over to the door and yank it open.
What I find outside is an absolute study in contrasts. Oddly, I have a strange mental image before my vision has even had time to process the scene: black and white, male and female. Life and death. Good and evil. See, this is the kind of thing you notice with sight like mine. Other people see colors and motion; I see human nature. Makes it hard to watch game shows and political debates.
And then my real vision catches up to my mind and actually shows me what I'm looking at: a boy, wearing black clothing, leather boots, and sunglasses, frantic with worry. In his arms, wearing a cute, short white dress and white boots, is a girl. Looking dead. Very dead, with a matted maroon stain spreading slowly across the perfect clean white. I can't tell if the boy has blood on him: his clothing is too dark.
He is staring at me, obviously terrified. "Take her," he whispers. "I can't do anything for her. Take her."
I shove the door open a bit wider. "Bring her in here," I direct.
He follows tentatively, and I lead him to a relatively open space about halfway up the main isle. He lays her gently onto the floor, and then struggles to his feet, still watching her.
I kneel beside her, and when I glance up at him I realize he is slowly backing away, towards the door. "Where are you going?" I call softly. "Don't you want to be here?"
He stops and spins around toward me, and I realize he is desperate to leave. "I can't stay," he says hoarsely. He takes off his sunglasses with shaking hands, and I stare at him for a second. His eyes are yellow. The pupils are black slits, like a cat. Eyes like his haven't been seen in a place like this for quite some time. Eyes like his should automatically call for me to take some action.
I let him slip out the door. He'll prowl around outside, I assume. He'll wait, for the girl and for me, as long as he doesn't have to wait in the immediate vicinity. Understandable, given the circumstances.
I turn my attention back to the girl on the floor. The streetlights outside are coming through the stained glass, making gray-tinged colors and patterns on her white dress, almost covering the blood that I know is on her. Muted colors, almost depressing to me who has seem them at their brightest. Oddly though, even this faded spectrum can be beautiful sometimes. Different, but beautiful. It's beautiful now. Perhaps it has something to do with the canvas it's on.
I look at the wounds on her chest. I haven't seen any like this for quite awhile, but I feel relatively certain that time does not lessen skills such as mine. I rock back on my heels and sigh. I'll need holy water for this, for the girl sprawled on the floor. That's fine. We have plenty.
I have nothing to carry water with, I realize, not even a Styrofoam cup, although the thought crosses my mind briefly that something like that could possibly be sacrilegious, and since I'm not sure, I'm better off avoiding it entirely. Of all nights to not bring my customary late-night coffee, this would be it.
After a quick, fruitless search, I end up using my hands, which takes longer since I obviously can't hold much at a time. I'm trying to be careful to avoid dripping it all over the carpet although, unfortunately, sometimes other things take precedence over neatness.
I dribble the water over her, concentrating on the blood-soaked spot. I have to run over to get more a few times. The blood fades slowly out of the white, like a bad television commercial for bleach. I run my hand, still damp, over her forehead and hair. Beautiful hair, blonde and silky like a model, only…not. Obviously not a model. To different to be a model. Some things can never be captured properly on film. She is one of those things. She shimmers. I don't know if I'm seeing her physical self or her nature. Maybe for her it's the same thing.
She twitches violently upward against the drops of water, her back arching, and makes a painful gasping, gagging sound. Her breathing is ragged for a minute, and then eventually she starts coughing, harshly. She moves a little, rolling partway onto her side and gagging again, almost retching. Finally her breathing evens out, and when she is only panting slightly, she opens her eyes.
"Is he here?" she questions immediately, and I know beyond a doubt that she means the black-clad, dark-haired boy who brought her.
"He's around," I soothe. "Outside."
She struggles to sit up and I help her, against my better judgment. She is breathing with more ease and the wound on her side seems to have vanished entirely. She eventually makes it to her feet, swaying only slightly, so I step away from her to allow her to balance by herself. She looks longingly toward the door, and then turns to me. "Thank you."
I smile slightly. "Always pleased to be of service to the watchers." I reach out and brush a few errant white feathers from where they've stuck to her dress. "Be careful of your wings. They don't heal as well as the body. Even with the water."
She looks at me wordlessly for a moment, and then takes a deep breath and walks toward the door. I watch her go.
"It won't last, you know. You two. It can't," I comment softly to her back.
She glances back at me for a moment and smiles slightly. "It has so far." She reaches the big double doors and pulls one open, before disappearing into the night and closing the door behind her.
I watch the door for a few silent minutes, half-smiling thoughtfully, and then turn back to my beloved orange-scented cleanser. I dust contentedly, softly humming a song left over in my head from choir practice earlier. This is what I love.
Behind me, someone clears a throat. A figure, dark, dressed tastefully in black, emerges from the shadows and wanders over to me. As he approaches, I realize he is whistling "What If God Was One of Us?" I glance sharply at him. "Javen, don't," I admonish mildly.
He stops beside me and is staring with interest out after the recently-departed pair. "They've got a few problems ahead of them, wouldn't you say?"
I shrug. "Probably. Nothing impossible."
He smiles distantly. "Of course not, Serenael." He chuckles humorlessly. "Ever the optimist. Nothing is impossible for creatures like us, isn't that right?"
I'm about to reply when a small wisp of smoke near the floor catches my eye. Javen is standing in a puddle of the holy water. I cough discreetly and gesture toward it with my head. "Your feet are smoldering," I point out calmly.
"Ah. So they are." He steps carefully out of the puddle and shakes his feet off fastidiously.
I sigh and shake my head, and leave to find a mop.