I found myself a secluded cloud over above the city of Moscow in Russia as I continued looking through my Viewing Glass, trying to concentrate on the task at hand but failing miserably as the events of the Gathering kept creeping into my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about it; it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss, but there were also risks and I didn’t want to leave Caroline up here by herself. Sure there were other angels she could ramble to, but I knew she’d miss me just as much as I’d miss her. I was at a small crossroads with my mind; stay up in Heaven and let another angel do it (if one was willing to) or take the task up for myself and fulfil my need to finally visit Earth. I wasn’t entirely sure of my decisions yet, but I knew I had until sunset tomorrow to decide.
As the first sunset dipped beneath the clouds, I sat and watched the sky changed colours as stars lit up the night sky, forming into constellations that had existed for billions of years. I recognised a few that I saw, like Orion, Leo and Sagittarius. The stars were my favourite things that God have ever created; it was only something small but with thousands of them filling the sky, it provided little light wherever they were, like a candle in the corner of a dark room. I could stare at them for hours and just watch as they twinkled and shone like tiny fairy lights. They were beautiful.
I lay on the cloud as I watched them, distracting myself from my duties and battling decision I had going on in my mind; it was quiet and peaceful. I shut my eyes and felt the cloud gently moving beneath me, swirling and constantly shifting as it moved slowly across the sky. I felt my muscles relax as I entered my own little world of isolation and serenity; if I was human, I would’ve fallen asleep, but angels don’t sleep so I didn’t. My breath was steady as I lay on the cloud in peace, letting the world move on without my input.
But like all good things, it came to an end.
The soft beat of wings landed near me and I sighed as my peace was short-lived. I peered through one eye to see Caroline standing above me, the moon behind her, casting a shadow and concealing most of her face and reflecting off of her glossy, black hair.
“Hello, Caroline,” I greeted and shut my eye, returning to my original state. “How may I help you?”
I heard Caroline let out a deep breath of air as she sighed. “You can help me by not considering the task that Michael gave out at the Gathering,” I heard her shift as she sat down beside me. “You know how dangerous it could be.”
I sighed. “I’m aware of the dangers, Caroline,” I said. “And I am considering it, although I am contemplating whether to do it or not.”
“Really?” I could hear the hopefulness in her tone although she seemed like she was trying to hide it. “That’s… that’s good to know.”
“Yeah, well,” I sat up and crossed my legs at the ankles as I leant back and rested on my hands. “I’m kind of torn between the two options, but-“
“But there really isn’t any other choice.”
I looked at Caroline with a raised eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
Caroline was sitting with her legs crossed, looking down at her lap and tracing shapes on her leg. Caroline stayed silent for a few moments, avoiding making eye contact with me.
“Caroline, what do you mean there isn’t any other choice?”
She sighed and looked up at me, the starry sky reflecting in her eyes. “I mean that you shouldn’t have to have a choice. You should do the reasonable thing and stay here in Heaven, where it’s safe.”
I looked at her astounded, shocked that she would just turn down my decision like that when she knew it was something I’ve wanted to do ever since I became an angel. Caroline knew that I’ve always wanted to go down to Earth, she even told me that it’ll come in due time, so why wasn’t she supporting me?
“Stay here? Caroline, you know I can’t do that,” I retaliated. “You know how much I’ve wanted to go down to Earth; trying and pushing myself to prove my worth to the Archangels so that they’ll allow me to. This could be my chance.”
“But what if it isn’t?” Caroline exclaimed, her voice rising slightly. “Remember the verse I told you – Galatians chapter six verse nine – ‘and let us not grow weary of doing good—“
“—for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up’, I know Caroline, I remember,” I didn’t understand. Why was Caroline so against this?
“Then if you understand the verse, it’s telling you to be patient and persevere, not giving up in hopes that you’ll get to where or what you want someday. Going to Earth now might not be that time, Markus. You just have to—“
“—wait another thousand years or so, maybe longer?” I looked at Caroline, expecting her to answer but she remained quiet. “Caroline,” I grabbed her hands holding them in my own. “You know how much this means to me and you know how long I’ve waited for a chance like this. Maybe this is what I’ve been waiting for, you don’t that and neither do I. But I have to take the chance; I might not get another one like it.”
Caroline looked at me with pleading eyes, full of despair and anguish; she’s never been this desperate about something in her life. I’ve never seen her like this, desperate and pleading for something not to happen. It’s almost like she knew what would happen to me if I went to Earth and was afraid for me. I had to reassure her.
“Caroline, you need to trust me,” I held her hands tighter and look her straight in the eyes. “I know it’ll be dangerous and I know I don’t know much about Earth, but you have to have faith in me that I’ll be okay, that I’ll come home as soon as possible. Trust me.”
Caroline stared at me intently, studying my expression and probably thinking over her thoughts on my decision. She had to know that I wanted to do this, with or without her permission; as if I needed it anyways.
Caroline moved one of her hands and brushed my hair back, her dainty fingers combing through my hair and calming me a small bit. She smiled slightly and sighed.
“I do trust you, Markus; I honestly, truly do,” her smile faded and she pursed her lips. “But I can’t let you do this.”
I felt my heart drop to my stomach. The one angel I trusted most in the world and she turned her back on me. I felt used and betrayed, but most of all, I felt angry. I felt angry about the fact that after all Caroline’s done for me, she turns her back on me the moment I need her most. I felt angry that she didn’t trust me enough that I could take care of myself on Earth, and I felt angry that she would try to keep me here in Heaven when she knew it was my passion to see Erath up close and not through a Viewing Glass.
I pulled my hands away from Caroline and stood up, turning on my heel and walking away from her.
“Markus, where are you going?!” Caroline called as I walked further and further away. “You can’t possibly be thinking about doing this.”
I turned around and started walking backwards, my gaze trained on Caroline. “Just watch me.”
I pivoted on my foot and continued walked forward towards the edge of the cloud.
“MARKUS!” Caroline shouted. “DON’T YOU DARE!”
I wasn’t listening. I was driven by anger and indignation on Caroline’s words and choice of not having enough faith in me to carry out this task. How could she do this to me? We were friends.
“MARKUS, PLEASE! I’M BEGGING YOU,” Caroline’s voice was desperate and pleading. “DON’T DO THIS!”
I kept making my way to the edge of the cloud, ignoring her and shutting her out.
“MARKUS, PLEASE!” she begged. “DON’T GO TO EARTH; DON’T TAKE GOD’S TASK HE GAVE TO MICHAEL. I DON’T WANT YOU TO GET HURT!”
I was right at the edge of the cloud, looking down at the city of Moscow as it lit up beneath me, staring at it as I thought of what it would be like to down there, away from Heaven. I almost had second thoughts, but then I remembered Caroline’s lack of faith in my and the spark reignited.
Then I jumped.
I couldn’t go to Earth straight away of course – as much as I wanted to – I had to notify the Archangels first of my decision and hope that they’d allow me to go below; that is if any other angel hadn’t grown the courage to ask before me that is.
I flew to France, not going as fast as I was today but fast enough that I made it there in about fifteen minutes, viewing the scenery below from up high as I flew. I made my way to the Eiffel tower and headed for the cloud that was positioned above it, flying into it as I was transported into the room where the Gathering was held.
I jogged to a stop as I folded in my wings, looking around the empty room for some kind of sign or way I could contact the Archangels. The room was dark except for a few candles that illuminated the staircase up to where Michael’s throne would have been if he was here. Instead, in its place, was a small pedestal in which some sort of orb was hovering a few centimetres above it. I’d never seen it before and was instantly curious, but also cautious. I didn’t know what it was so I didn’t know what it could do. If it was a way for me to contact the Archangels, good for me, but there was a possibility that it wasn’t it and there was only one way to find out.
I made my way to the stairs, my footsteps echoing on the marble floor as I walked through the darkness towards the candlelit staircase. I began walking up the stairs as I cautiously made my way towards the orb, realising that it was glowing with the same kind of light that appeared when the Archangels did, just not as blinding. As I reached the top of the stairs, I heard a faint humming sound coming from the orb, getting louder the closer I got to it. I stood before the pedestal, looking at the orb as it glowed and hummed, the inside of it looking as if there were clouds trapped inside. I hesitantly reached out to touch the orb, my hand moving slowly towards it as I cautiously went to touch it. I wasn’t sure how this orb would or wouldn’t help me contact the Archangels, but it was worth a try.
My fingers hovered over the orb, a few millimetres away from touching it as I felt slight vibrations coming from it. I touched the orb with the tips of my fingers and suddenly felt a pulse of energy shoot through me and send me stumbling backwards. I expected to fall and land on the stairs, proceeding to fall down them; but I didn’t. Instead, I fell through the floor, screaming as I was unprepared and did expect do suddenly fall through solid marble floor. Fortunately, it didn’t last long and I landed in a pool of freezing cold water that chilled me to my bones and froze all of my nerves. I felt immobile and unable to move a muscle as the water surrounded me. It felt… peaceful, like I did when I looked at the stars. I could feel myself slowly sinking as I suddenly started remembering moments in my life where I was content and happy. I could’ve stayed there forever.
Then I felt a tugging on my arm and I was suddenly pulled upward and out of the water with harsh strength. I was tossed onto a hard, cold, marble floor and began coughing and gasping for air. I coughed up water that was trapped in my lungs as I knelt on my hands and knees while someone patted my back.
“Easy there, buddy. You swallowed a lot of water.”
I turned my head to look over my shoulder and saw the Archangel Gabriel standing above me as he helped get the water out of my system. He had his signature grin on his face as he looked at me.
“Markus, right?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Nice to meet you. You probably know me, but in case you’ve been hiding away in a cloud for the past several billion years or so, I’m Gabriel, Archangel of mercy and peace and the most incredibly good-looking angel ever created.”
I would’ve laughed at his egotistical humour but I was a little busy choking up water I had swallowed into my lungs. Side note: how did he know my name?
I coughed. “Yeah, I know you are,” I’d gotten most of the water out of my lungs to talk and as was able to sit back on my ankles. I was dripping wet and felt as cold as the arctic. “But how did you know my name?”
Gabriel smirked. “I know all the angels both past and present, pal. After all, I was there when you were created,” he said. “And man, your soul was the purest one I’d seen since Uriel’s, which was very pure mind you, almost pure enough to be an Archangels.”
Pure enough to be an Archangels? Seriously? I mean, I know a soul has to be pure to become an angel, but pure enough to almost be an Archangel? That was something I had no idea about.
Gabriel patted me on the back and stood upright. “C’mon, Mark – can I call you Mark? Let’s get you dried up and out of those clothes.”
I stood up, my balance a bit off-centre causing me to stumble a bit, before turning to Gabriel who was looking me up and down as if I had grown an extra limb somewhere.
I looked down at my body just to make sure I hadn’t. “What? Do I have an extra hand or something?”
Gabriel laughed and shook his head. “Nah, you’re fine,” he assured me. “Just thinking of what to dress you in because that white suit looks too… decorous and staid.”
I furrowed my eyebrows. “What’s wrong with that?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Just means you look too uptight and stiff, kinda like my big brother, Mikey,” Gabriel explained, making me feel slightly self-conscious. “But I can fix that.”
With a click of his fingers, I was suddenly dry and groomed to perfection with a new attire of clothing. I looked down at myself as the weight of the saggy suit disappeared and was replaced with a more casual white, button-down dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, a black waistcoat, black dress pants, dress shoes and a black and red necktie. It felt weird to dress like this, not as formally as I usually would, but if it’s what Gabriel had decided for me, then I couldn’t complain or whinge.
“Uh, thank you, Sir Gabriel,” I said as I studied my new look. “It’s very… debonair.”
“I know right?” Gabriel grinned. “But please don’t call me ‘sir’. It’s too… sophisticated and kinda ruins my whole ‘free spirit’ vibe.”
I nodded and held my hands behind my back. I should probably mention why I’m here in the headquarters of the Archangels. “Umm, Sir Gabri-I mean, Gabriel,” I felt weird not addressing him formally. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow as if it was a signal for me to continue. “You’re probably wondering why I’m, umm, here and stuff…”
Gabriel’s mischievous grin turned into more of a softer smile. ”You’re here to volunteer for the surveillance task on Earth, aren’t you?” he said as if he knew my purpose here from the start.
I nodded and scratched the back of my neck. “Has, err, anyone else come to volunteer for the task?”
Gabriel shook his head. “I’m afraid not, Mark. You’re the only one I’ve known who has willingly volunteered to step up to the plate and take the risk on Earth.”
I felt a small bit of hope and excitement as I found out that I was the only one. Of course, it was obvious, though, not many angels were happy with the task at the Gathering so it was a given that almost none of them wanted to volunteer, but there was still the matter of impressing and persuading the Archangel Michael to allow me to go the Earth. That matter was still to be completed.
Gabriel gestured his head towards a set of large, double doors that looked as if they were made entirely out of gold and starting walking towards it.
“Come on,” he called. “You need clearance to go to Earth and I’m not qualified to do it, so we need to go see the man himself.”
For a moment I thought he was talking about God, and then I remembered that Michael was the one in charge while God was absent. I nodded and followed Gabriel, my nerves jittering all over the place as I thought of what I was going to say to Michael to make him believe that I was the right candidate for the job.
I looked back at the pool of water where I fell in, taking a closer look at it. It seemed to glow a faint blue colour and it looked as if there were hundreds of people trapped just under its surface. I felt the colour rush out of my face.
“Uhh… Gabriel?” I called. “Wh-what are those in the water?”
Gabriel stopped and turned to look at the pool of water, shrugging like it was nothing out of the ordinary. “That’s just the souls of angels who have either died or become one of the Fallen. With nowhere else to go once an angel dies, their grace and souls comes back up to Heaven and is what protects us from the eyes of humanity and stops humans and demons from entering Heaven,” Gabriel explained. “That’s why I had to pull you out as soon as possible, otherwise, the souls would’ve consumed you and you would’ve ceased to exist and joined them. The water is actually Holy Water which is just an extra precaution in case the wards collapse and demons get through. They can’t get into here without falling into the Holy Water and burning alive; so it’s kinda like acid.”
My heart felt like it was going a million miles per hour. Souls of deceased angels? Ceased to exist if in there for too long? What kind of death trap was allowed like that in Heaven? Heaven was supposed to be a place of serenity, peace and goodwill, not having death traps that could kill either angel or demon. It was terrifying, to say the least.
“Now let’s get a move on, buddy,” Gabriel said. “The sooner you speak to Michael, the sooner you can go to Earth and get this bizarre task out of the way. “