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On Broken Wings
I heard a crash behind me and turned around. Nothing. I kept walking down the aisle of the church, wary of my surroundings now more than ever. I was nearing the front altar faster now, jogging in my haste.
I reached the first row of candles and slowed my pace back to a fast walk. The candles cast deformed shadows across the walls, reflecting wickedly in the stained-glass windows, showing pictures of demons and saints alike.
There was a thud behind me, closer than the sound I heard before. I spun around and scanned the pews for any signs of life, once again finding nothing. I ran a hand through my hair. When I pulled my hand back, the back of it was wet.
In the dying light of the candles I had to squint to see the liquid on my pale skin. Once I identified it, my eyes grew wide. Blood, dark crimson and deadly. I stumbled back and looked up.
An angel hung from the upper arch way, white wings stained crimson with blood. I stumbled back and nearly fell over the second row of candles, my eyes locked on the hanging figure.
It was a boy. Blonde hair hung limply in his face, covering lifeless eyes. Though I couldn’t tell the color, I guessed that they were blue by the way they reflected the light of the candles.
The blood was dripping from his wrist, though I could see a faint cut running along his back, under his wings. He was hanging by a purple satin rope, the kind the priests wore when they held church services. As I stared, taking in the details, my trance began to break. It finally clicked in my mind. I was staring at a dead body. A dead angel.
I never heard myself scream, only felt the heat of the candles as I fell backwards into them.
----- + -----
The girl fell backwards into the candles, flames threatening to catch her ripped, black sweater on fire. She was screaming from the shock of the angel above her, hanging and dripping blood onto the altar. Just as the first threads of her sweater caught fire, she moved as if she was pulled forward by a string.
She gasped for breath, stopping her scream. She was on her knees, having been pulled forward by an unseen force. Just as she was catching her breath for another scream, the door at the side of the altar flew open. A priest was running out. A running priest was not a good sign.
He reached the girl and knelt beside her, listening to her gasp out what was wrong. He looked up at the blood stained figure hanging from the arch and gasped, then mumbled a prayer under his breath, crossing himself as he did so.
He opened his eyes and looked at the girl again, who was shaking now, babbling to him about nearly falling into the candles.
He just nodded and stood up, offering her his arm for support as she shakily stood. He helped her walk to the door at the side of the altar that he had come through, his arm around her for support and to still some of her shaking.
Once he helped her through the door and to her small, silvery car in the back parking lot, telling her there was nothing to worry about, he returned to the main hall, determined to find out what had happened. He gripped the cross pendant in his thick hand tightly as he walked to the first row of candles and looked up, expecting to see more detail of the angel above him.
The angel was gone. His blood was still spattered on the floor and a noose still hung from the arch, but the body itself was gone.
The priest’s eyes widened and he gripped the cross pendant tighter than ever, reciting any and every prayer for protection he could think of, hands shaking as he touched his forehead and bowed his head.
----- + -----
The back of my neck burned, like I was being watched. I spun around. Nothing, just the dust glistening in the candle light. I turned back around and continued walking, trying to ignore the growing unease in the bottom of my stomach.
I shifted the books I was carrying to my other arm and placed my hand on the railing of the staircase leading to the attic of the church. The staircase spiraled up, out of sight in the dying light. I stepped up onto the first step, then swung around to look behind me.
I could’ve sworn…never mind.
I climbed up a few more stairs, reaching the first of the six tight spirals this staircase was twisted into. I looked at where I had been, and, now higher up, I could see what had been watching me.
He knelt on one of the lower rafters, black hair hanging limply in his face, covering silver eyes. I had a severe sense of déjà vu, but ignored it and ran down the stairs.
“Father! Father Valdez! Come quickly, please! Father!”
I screamed louder when the figure leaned too far to one side and fell to the ground, landing sprawled on the floor. I skidded to his side and knelt down, pushing his hair out of his eyes with one hand while using the other to check his pulse in his neck. His wrists seemingly slit to shreds.
I heard Father come in and drop down beside me, but I didn’t look up from this boy’s silver eyes. He was an angel, his wings broken and blood stained, feathers littering the floor. He stared up at me, his eyes sad and full of pain that he didn’t show physically.
“By now, you would think I’d be used to seeing angels…,” I muttered to myself, then looked sidelong at father, “Is there anything…”
He shook his head, “Unless you have magical healing powers that I don’t know about, then, no.” I nodded and looked back down at him. He was smiling now, though his eyes were still sad.
“I-I changed…th-the world…I-I killed, so, so many, all for th-the better.” He hesitated between each word. I looked at him, confused. He laughed quietly, an odd, broken sound.
“Don’t you regret it?” I asked, not able to help myself.
“Do you regret…living? The only th-thing I have remorse for, i-is, that C-Casey was a casualty.”
“Who?” He was confusing me, but it was a good sign he was talking, I think.
“My best friend…The only one I regret killing, because, h-he was the only o-one to care…” He stopped talking and gasped quietly, though his face betrayed no pain. It was an odd thing to watch. He must have been in agony, but I could see in his eyes, behind the sadness and pain, he was calculating something.
Father looked at him, then cursed, causing me to look up, “Father, we’re in church!”
“Dear, he’s not deserving of this…He deserves a worse death than this. Don’t you?” He looked down at him.
He nodded, “Y-yes.”
“What’s your name?”
Sad angel…very appropriate. I raised my eyebrows at Father Valdez, “How much longer?”
“Not much.” He took a book of matches out of his pocket. Kenshii saw what he was doing, though he didn’t react, again.
“Why?” Father was now kneeling down next to his head, across from me, “Why kill them all?”
“Anna.” He said, then looked away, eyes closing slowly.
“Kenshii, come on, stay here!” I was too late. I checked his pulse. He was dead.
Father stood up and lit a match, dropping it onto Kenshii’s body. He walked around him and pulled me away.
“Who is Anna?”
“His sister.” A voice behind us said. I spun around. Another angel. He had brown hair and black wings. My friend, Casey.
“Casey, how do you-“
“Kenshii was my best friend. When I got too close to finding everything out, he killed me. He did it all for his little sister, Anna. She died three years ago, only months after he died. When he found out, it was the first time I have ever seen him yell…or cry.”
I ran to Casey and hugged him, then tugged him to one of the pews and sat down, pulling him down next to me, then motioning for him to continue.
“Kenshii killed a total of twenty-one angels. All of them, in his eyes, were not deserving of their position, or of even being in heaven. He did it all to get Anna’s soul into heaven. You see, how she died was suicide. She jumped off a cliff. She hadn’t been allowed entrance into heaven because of that, so he was going to buy it in. The demon that watches the souls trapped on earth wants nothing more than angel blood, to give her a body to let her go back to hell. It’s all about finding a home…though some can never find one.”
He hugged me quickly, then stood up from the pew. He walked to Kenshii, sitting down on the floor beside him. The fire was spreading, using his clothes to feed itself, but it would be a while before he was a pile of ashes.
“I’m sorry this is the end of it all. We went through hell and back together, and truly, I am sorry you never succeeded in getting Anna’s soul into heaven. I’m sorry you never found a place to belong, and I’m sorry you sunk to this. I should’ve done something, but I didn’t. Here’s hoping that somehow we’ll both live on, even with broken wings.” He stood up and walked out of the church, leaving me to stare after him.
On broken wings, I will fall.
You will forgive me, forget me,
Hate me, revenge me.
But nothing will change,
That I am flying,
On broken wings.