CHRISTMAS DAY, SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE NEBRASKA...
The woods buzzed with activity. Another day of life in nature's paradise. Rays of the afternoon sun shimmered through the leaves of towering trees, flocks of wild birds sat atop the branches, congregating amongst themselves. Below them, herds of deer and moose huddled together and munched quietly on the frozen grass of the forest. In the distance from the groups of animals, wolves hid amidst the thickets, watching, waiting; crisp puffs of white smoke escaped their muzzles. Snow hadn't fallen, yet winter was in the air. The rivers and lakes of the grasslands were starting to freeze.
Then it happened.
An enormous bolt hurtled to earth from the clear skies. Although it was a bright and beautiful afternoon, the flash of light struck the ground with a booming sound, close to the crackle of thunder. Upon creating a small crater, dirt and foliage flew everywhere, tiny sparks of fire blazed along the soil. Similar to lightning striking a tree, the light crashed in a small clearing of the woods not far from birds, moose and deer, causing them to scatter frantically in all directions. Even the wolves were frightened; instead of using the chaos to their advantage, they took off as well.
With a pale hand, she pulled herself from the deep hole, completely unfazed by her fall. Her clothes were clean, her beauty unnaturally radiant.
**Dressed in a flowing ivory dress, brunette locks fell to her shoulders, curling at the ends. She crawled a few feet from her impact location, then sat on the lower half of her legs and wrapped her arms herself, hunching forward and shivering in the frigid winds, scanning her surroundings. The forest was still around her. A pair of large and feathery pallid wings, long as her arms, flexed and fluttered from her back.**
Cadence was barefoot, not to mention cold—freezing actually. However, her state of being didn't matter at the moment. Heaven had charged her with a very important mission on the birthday of the risen King. The fate of one woman's life rested in her hands. It was important she be saved, so she she could go on to help others. There was no room for error here. Erasing worry and doubt from her mind, she stood to her feet, tightening her jaw. She noticed the small flames from her crash swaying in the breezes beside her. With a single wave of her hand, they fizzled and died instantly. That done, it was time to get to work. She sighed then closed her eyes, her mind focusing on a lonely narrow road encircled by grassy hills; part of the interstate that lead to some small town; It wasn't far from her. She would find her there.
As fast as she appeared, in another flash of light, she was gone. Faint plumes of smoke next to the crater drifted into brisk winter air.
When she arrived, standing in the middle of the highway, the wreck had already happened. Wind howled softly in the air. Chunks of steel and pieces of torn rubber joined shards of glass in littering the cold concrete. Two smashed vehicles stood on either side of her in opposing lanes; a semi-truck with its front bumper missing and a small red four-door that looked even worse. Its tires were slowly rolling away off-road. The entire front hood had been crushed inward and there wasn't a windshield anymore. The driver's door was also dented in, but completely disconnected from the metal frame. Inside, still slumped in the driver's seat was the lifeless body of an ebony woman.
Short dreadlocks fell to her ears, her cheeks, including her heavy emerald jacket were stained in her own blood. Another victim of drunk driving. Cadence exhaled, glancing at the two automobiles, more white wisps leaving her lips. Time was short. The driver of the truck would be fine, he was simply unconscious. Her mission involved the other human at death's door.
She approached the totaled car, smelling gasoline; it was leaking from a broken pipe beneath the machine. However she didn't need her senses to inform her of the danger; she knew what was going to happen. She had two minutes. Casually lifting a hand, the entire vehicle shook for a moment, then with a loud creak, the dented driver's door abruptly shot from its hold and landed on the ground several feet away with a screeching thud. Using the same hand, when she reached the woman she touched her, spurring her to life. She gasped for air, coughing and blinking wildly. Memories rushed back into her thoughts, causing her to panic and tremble. It was all her fault... All her fault.
She didn't remember much, except for having an argument with her younger brother before hitting a bar and getting wasted to drown away her anger and resentment. They weren't exactly on good terms. Where he was mature, responsible and liked by everyone in the her family, Whitney was the black sheep. She felt more like a black cloud... She didn't make the best decisions in her past and as a result her seven year old daughter was taken from her by the state.
The accident happened so fast Whitney honestly didn't know what hit her until impact. She recalled seeing a truck in opposite lane, and wanting another beer, so she reached for a bottle in the passenger seat...
"Whitney," Cadence spoke softly. "Try to calm yourself. You have a lot of broken bones."
The woman turned to spot the angel and that only made her freak out more. Did she die? Was stuck in limbo? Is she hallucinating? Her body soon awakened and the sheer pain from her crushed limbs and deep, gaping wounds caused her to scream out in agony.
"Pain is proof you're alive," She said. "This car will explode very shortly. In a about a minute actually. Let's get you out of there."
"W-what?" Whitney's eyes widened in terror, she struggled to free herself but she was too injured to move. She yelled out in pain again. That didn't stop Cadence's warm smile.
The angel peered into the car through the wide doorway and placed a hand on dashboard. An effortless push against it, bending sturdy metal frames and other broken debris that were currently trapping the woman's legs. Forty seconds. She wrapped her opposite one around the human and pulled firmly. Whitney groaned and clenched her teeth. She was free.
Cradling the the lady in her arms like she would a sleeping child, Cadence started to carry her across the road towards the truck, just as the small car exploded and burst into flames, showering the road in smoldering bits.
Whitney peeked over the angel's arms, gazing at her destroyed ride. That could have been her...
The world around her started to spin. She was still drunk. Despite her woozy state, plus the excruciating pain she was in, inside her rescuer's arms, an overwhelming feeling overcame her. She just knew... Things were going to be okay. And that her life, from this day forward, would be different. Whether she was imagining things or not, Whitney had never felt stronger about anything in her life. Cadence's wings twitched in the frigid gusts. Her dress rippled.
"Never pick up another bottle. Understand?" Cadence said once she lay the woman down beside the long haul of the truck. Whitney sniffed, shivering from the cold, but managed to nod weakly.
"You'll be seeing your daughter soon," Cadence patted the human's shoulder and giggled.
Whitney raised her eyebrows. "R-really?"
At that moment, the large vehicle's door swung open and the truck driver, a pale man sporting overalls, a plaid jacket, a baseball cap and a hefty stomach jumped out of his seat. Blood trickled down the side of his head from an ugly cut.
"Oh sweet lord," He mumbled breathlessly, seeing the blazing smashed car. Dread filled him.
He began to run over to it, then decided he had better radio this in, and spun around to make the call. This is not how he envisioned his Christmas to turn out! Suddenly, he spotting a dazed Whitney sitting some odd feet from him. She was losing consciousness again. She rolled her head to her side, to look at the angel once more, wanting to thank the being for rescuing her, but she was gone.
"Enjoy your new gift!" Cadence's voice filled her ears.
"Lady!" He hurried to her. "You alright? Hey... Hey..." His voice trailed off while her vision blurred.
She stared at the car once again watching the cloud of black smoke rise into the sky. She figured it out. What the angel's last words meant. Today was Christmas. And her 'new gift' was a second chance.
"Thank you," She whispered gratefully, seconds before blacking out.