This is a story I wrote for my English Lit. coursework, except that one is longer as I had a 750 word limit. I had to take inspiration from the book Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh, I took the themes of religion, disillusionment and the quote "angels are very bright mirrors" for this.

The darkness lifted. He was no longer writhing in agony but floating in darkness. He tried to move, but he was paralysed. A light floated in the distance, bright and untainted to his eyes and he attempted in vain to move closer to it, however it seemed to be coming to him, or for him. Trying to remember what had been happening before he arrived in this dark, cool place left him with a raging burning sensation, the feel of his flesh bubbling on his bones, the insatiable heat that licked at him and the pain of terrific quantities as he recalled the smell of cooking meat. He could now remember what had happened. He'd been a home, in his modest apartment when the fire alarm had sounded. He'd rushed out, only to hear the screams of a young girl inside. Without a moment's hesitation he'd gone in, fighting the tendrils of smoke that tried to suffocate him. He hadn't been able to find her, he'd end up climbing on a table to escape the flames but it had become his funeral pyre.

The light had reached him now. He found himself standing before it, it was taller than him by at least a metre with was appeared to be huge outstretched wings expanding over ten metres to either side of him. All he could sense was the purity of the creature.

"You are dead."

The voice echoed around him and pierced deep in his mind. He knew that, he was almost glad after the torture he'd suffered.

"Dead?" he echoed and nodded. He looked around at the darkness, wondering where on Earth he could possibly be.

"You are not on Earth." The voice startled him and he looked back at the light.

"Are you an angel?" he asked, tentatively.

"Yes. I was sent by God to decide your fate." The man trembled slightly. He had never had faith in God, he was a scientist and a logical man but to find out he was wrong was a knock to his pride.

"A man who has no faith shall go straight to hell, unless he is found to be repentant and true."

He was trembling, the Angel was shifting, changing and he could see fragments of his life flash before him.

"Hey! Leave him alone!" he watched his younger self shout at a bully a few years older than him. On the floor lay a boy younger than himself, his books scattered around and tears in his eyes.

"Or what?" the bully leered, stepping closer with his fist raised. The man, there a boy, flinched away from him.

"I'll fight you," he said, his voice surprising steady considering his situation. The bully roared with laughter, as did his friends and he was about to deliver a blow to him when the loud shout of a teacher rang through the halls.

He looked expectantly at the angel, hoping for an explanation of what was happening but he got no reply. The light was still, unmoving, apart from more blinking images.

He didn't think anyone would notice if he just took five pounds. He dipped his fingers into petty cash, snagging the note and subtly slipping it into his pocket. He was dying for a coffee and his measly pound coin wouldn't get him the one with all the toppings that he loved.

"We noticed," the Angel commented. The man blushed under that comment, it was surprisingly emotionless and he hated to think it, but it worried him. Stealing, he knew enough to known it was a sin, a deadly sin of greed.

The dog had appeared on his driveway as he set out to work. It was limping, blood staining his fur. He climbed out the car and spoke to the creature reassuringly and held out his hand.

"Come here, boy," he spoke, softly and the dog willingly limped forward to him. He petted it fondly and called back at the house for his girlfriend who appeared shortly after.

"Call the vet, he's injured," he said, continuing to stroke the dog.

He had to hope that was brownie points for him. He had done some good things in his life after all, even if he hadn't believed in God.

He was hungry. He'd skipped lunch to finish a report and he knew it would be several hours until tea. After a search of the kitchen revealed nothing to his fancy, his attention turned to a hamper on the table; it was for the homeless charity a few blocks over to help them feed the homeless for Christmas. He quietly lifted the lid and peeked inside, what he saw left his mouth watering. Packets of crisps, tubes of sweets and many tins of food that he craved; gingerly reaching out, he closed his hand around a tin of baked beans. He knew his fiancée wasn't home yet, or due to be for at least an hour, so maybe she wouldn't notice one can missing. He took it out and studied the instructions before opening the can and emptying the contents into a pan.

The man was ashamed with himself. If he saw anyone else doing as he had, he would have been appalled at their behaviour.

"You died for a little girl," the Angel said, "I won't make you watch that, but I can tell you that she did also die, but it was painless, the smoke killed her."

The man sighed in relief. He was glad she didn't have to remember the pain of being burned alive as he did.

The glimpses into his life sped up, forming a whirlwind around the Angel and he watched in awe of the incredible creature before him. Every so often, he'd catch sight of small details in his life and he wondered how anyone could have possibly known.

Minutes past, the tornado gradually slowing in speed and the Angel's bright light began to get dimmer and dimmer as the seconds went by until it was gone altogether. The darkness swarmed around him once more and he reached out blindly for anything to grasp. He had to wonder if this was Hell and the Angel hadn't seen how sorry he was for the sins he'd committed.

There was a quiet creaking noise and he turned sharply to see the outline of double doors opening before him.

"Come…" whispered a voice, "come into your new home."

I purposely left the choice of whether he goes to Heaven or Hell up to the reader, which takes a similar theme to how the novel ends. I will leave you to make your own choice on his fate.

- Rhiannon