Before now, medical doctors would swear as fact that a human fetus could not create sound, much less scream in agony.
Twenty-two doctors simultaneously turned their attention to the unborn soul locked in the sealed vat. Speechless. Mouths agape. The MDs stared.
Dr. Bridgett Epperson, the twenty-third in the room and only one in a red lab coat, remained composed as she rushed with smooth, long strides to the computer facilitating Alex’s growth.
Tappity-tappity—tap—tap—tap. The song of the keyboard clacked.
The fetal screams stopped. Dr. Epperson’s icy glare told the other doctors to resume work. None rebelled.
Dr. Epperson stroked the thick glass that separated her from the child. She strained her ears, eagerly awaiting his laughter. None came.
“Sleep, child. It was only a nightmare.”
In the beginning Elohim created the Universe, and for a time the Celestial Orbs spun with Radiance and Perfection.
War broke amongst the ranks of Angels. A small few who desired to orchestrate chaos among order, an attempt to prove themselves better than Elohim. They failed, but not before tearing the unifying fabric of reality.
Stars refused to generate light. Planets stopped spinning. Moons abandoned orbit. Gases missed the ignition to pop and expand. Nebulae bled the afterbirth of aborted galaxies. The universe fled and expanded to escape the darkness of true death.
To the benefit of all life, more Angels remained faithful than those who rebelled, and though the doorway into the Eternal Realm would remain locked until all life breathed its last, they vowed to heal and guide the torn worlds.
One group of Seraphs traveled with the expanded universe to provide light and song for a lonely and empty space. The fighters searched for defectors. Healers comforted planets, moons, and stars. Architects phased between the physical and spiritual realms.
Angels Chazon and Shabon, propelled by visions of man and his future, ventured toward Earth and made home within the planetary maiden’s soul. The creative glow of Elohim still shown with brilliant waves of gold as song caressed the immaterial realm. Nevertheless, pinhole pockets of nether void dotted the spiritual aether and with darkness torn, mutated and malformed life that rose from that tainted puddle.
“We will ensure man’s stay in the light.” Chazon said.
Chazon, with his creative and imaginative ingenuity, arranged unseen and unrecorded (even to this day) elements that would inspire the best and brightest of man to invent and create. Muses of his own creation, Chazon dotted the world with these invisible modes of Eureka.
Seconds flowed into years while millennia reversed into days. The construct of time careened into unrecordable measures, swam upward in a cosmic arch or slid downward in a delicate drizzle as Chazon and Shabon phased between the material and eternal.
And yet, the Earth continued to spin without the footsteps of man. Microbes and amoeba arrived. Magma receded into cooling rivers and oceans. Fish, arthropods, and those wild amphibians appeared next. Mineral deposits, dirt, rock, and sand formed islands and eventually continents.
“Surely now,” Shabon said, “man will show.”
Earth, however, responded with the slow evolution of seeds, plants, flowers, trees, fruits, and vegetables.
“Preparation.” Chazon said.
Shabon snapped her angelic fingers in the repetitive rhythm of one attempting to combat impatience. Elohim’s creative motion answered with the slow mutation of amphibians into lizards and birds. Giant monsters stomped across the Earth in a winless battle of survival.
And Shabon waited.
The Earth cooled and brought forth mammals. Tamer than their predecessors, but beasts nonetheless. The slower ones attempted to eat the faster ones. Most times the prey escaped, but not always. Shabon had a slight understanding to Elohim’s design.
A hairy, hunchbacked creature gave Shabon and Chazon hope that man’s time had finally come, but alas, the beast couldn’t use deductive reason or higher cognition any better than the beasts with whom he wrestled.
Man still remained absent.
Chazon remained in a heightened state of meditation, formulating the invisible lines of inspiration to guide man. He spoke, however, in soundless words to his partner.
“Now is your time to make man’s path brighter.”
Shabon dug her hands into the Earth and formed natural gardens and waterways. Beautiful landscapes and graceful mountain ranges. An oasis for the lost and weary soul. Shaded wood for the frightened wanderer. Bubbling brooks for those who would drink deep. Within and above the earth, connecting each destination that would rejuvenate a man’s soul, Shabon formed the ley-lines that would lead men around the voids. On both sides of the entrances to each haven, Shabon planted a garden of golden roses that produced a warm glow for miles.
“Now, we wait.”
But Shabon didn’t wait. Not in the way of her partner, who merely sat and reflected. Instead, she paced the globe, phasing in and out of the material and eternal realm, taking it upon herself to make what she saw as necessary adjustments to ensure Earth’s longevity. And yet, the voids, even though the size of an atom, appeared to have grown.
Man’s guidance must be assured. Shabon flashed from one point of the globe to the next, checking the ley-lines and their faint, magnetic vibrations. All was well. Elohim’s light, invisible to physical eyes, but radiating with an unperceived warmth. The flowers however. Those golden roses of light held the slightest dim.
Shabon found a violet dot among the gold. Without hesitation, she plucked it and ground it between angelic thumb and forefinger. Instead of righteous satisfaction, an unknown awareness found itself plaguing her thoughts. She flew to the second haven.
Violet rose after violet rose. But only one and never more. How, Shabon wondered, had the void spread into the haven’s garden? Eleven of the twelve gardens, tainted with the stain of a dark and oily purple among the purity of gold.
“A flaw amongst perfection. This will not do. Will not. Just won’t.”
Shabon cringed at her own unspoken broken rule. A slip into contraction use reveals a defective mind.
As if in response to Shabon’s radiating thoughts, the violet petals unfolded one at a time. Asleep in the flower’s heart lay a dreaming Alex Wonder, who struggled to understand why an Angel would care about grammar. Shabon in turn wondered how this sleeping creature could read her mind.
Alex woke and rolled out and off the flower.
“I didn’t think Angels had minds. In the literal sense.”
A beam of Elohim’s light shone from Shabon’s outstretched hand and enveloped both Alex and the flower. For a flicker, Shabon had expected the little man and rose to crinkle, burn, and scatter into the non-existence of the void. The thought even made her smile.
“Purge the wicked and make room for the righteous.”
Alex realized he both understood and knew nothing about this Celestial Being. Angels reflect human qualities around humans and no one else. He couldn’t be certain if the angels themselves manifested these mannerisms, or if people project their own personality on celestial creatures. Even as you read and draw images within your electrical coils, you cannot be sure of who is characterizing whom.
Shabon stopped and closed her hand when she realized the light did nothing more than warm Alex and the flower. Increased their size too.
“Are you the one who’s been picking my flowers?” Alex said.
“Are you the one who’s been infecting my garden?” Shabon returned in kind, but somewhat harsh.
“A little color to add flare. Besides, I thought your structures were meant to shelter human’s in need of rest and rejuvenation.”
Shabon found herself in a predicament. This creature—
Resembled the humans for which she waited. But something about this one seemed…off. As if he did not belong here.
“And yet, here I am.”
Yes. The little, dark man still stood in her presence, even after a bath in Elohim’s light. So Shabon relented despite reservation and took hold of the man who somehow was not the first man.
After Chazon and Shabon’s initial confusion, and not so well-hidden disappointment, they accepted Alex’s presence and claim to the family of man. Alex suspected the awkwardness and lack of good social decorum had more to do with Angelic ignorance than himself. For a time, Chazon and Shabon proved his assumption correct.
Chazon spent the evenings teaching Alex of the spiritual elements within the curtain dividing the two realms. That these elements, bound by a law higher than physics, could grant insight, inspiration, and glimpses into both the past and future. Such knowledge meant nothing without access and Chazon showed Alex the way.
Alex learned of the thousand variations for prayer and meditation. When asked if one methodology stood above the others, Chazon chided him (in a way Alex assumed—or rather hoped—was in a fatherly way).
“If one were the best, I wouldn’t have bothered with the rest.”
So, Alex delved into them all. Art, science, religion, metaphysics, farming, butchering, music, sex, life, and death—revelations of man’s separation from the animals and celestials. Alex’s mind and soul learned to separate from body and travel the multiple realms of existence. He also became aware of the voids.
Alex wasn’t the only student. Both angels had grown curious by Alex’s creation of sound through his vocal cords and how it affected the natural and spiritual world. For such a small and mortal object, the voice held more power than the human could ever realize. Chazon and Shabon took note but made certain to keep any discovery between themselves.
The physical needs of the body cut short Alex’s travels through the spiritual realms. And so, he would take refuge within Shabon’s safe havens. Here he would combine unseen inspiration with Earth’s provided material and built upon Shabon’s original designs.
Alex discovered some minerals conducted celestial energy better than others. Star and planet arrangement—stones—and light refraction set with the right precision, made access to the unseen easier and less physically demanding.
With stones of quartz, marble, onyx, silver, and gold Alex created moon rooms and shadow walls. Thick wood of oak and cedar to craft dancing poles. Other wood burned on glassy stone to produce smoke and aroma of transition between the worlds. Everything his hands touched, formed into a mode of connecting with nature and spirit. How or why mattered little to Alex. The connections made sense to him and felt obvious.
Chazon found Alex’s work so beneficial, He no longer spent the entire day caring for the unseen elements. Instead, he went from nurturing them every minute, to hour, day, week, until never because now the responsibility fell at Alex’s feet. This Angel could now do the unexpected and rest as, he assumed, Elohim always intended.
Shabon, however, flared with a righteous indignation at the—
that had obviously corrupted Alex’s soul into believing her designs were anything less than perfect.
“To you, perhaps,” Alex said, bold and unafraid, “But humans and angels differ in a number of ways.”
Chazon, swinging from a hammock and slurping the last of a delicious drink Alex called a Mai-Tai, said, “Relax. Rest. Wait until the others arrive.”
A pattern of collapse had begun. Chazon no longer imagined. His eyes remained closed, unable or unwilling to see the invisible dots and strings he had once placed into motion. That, he relinquished, now belonged to Alex.
New humans arrived and Shabon found them better company than Alex. Less ambitious, little to no drive, and no motivation to seek beyond what little they could already understand and see. Each time Shabon spoke, the little mortals shivered with undying reverence.
“Obedient babes. My children.”
Her once warm voice had now drifted into a cold, serpentine whisper. The aura of gold now dull, faded to brass.
Shabon would not let Alex corrupt these humans with disobedience and selfish ambition. She gathered two men, with a far lighter complexion than Alex and the others, and crafted a plan to rid herself of Alex.
“The first human who shouldn’t.” She called him.
But even this angel of true light knew that she could not conceive of deception and manipulation without assistance, and so she succumbed to the methodology “the ends justify the means,” and dipped her finger into the void.
“Just a dip with the tip of a pinky so small.”
Whether a dip or complete immersion, the void corrupts without prejudice—and those who fall in its nothingness, feel no regret or remorse for deeds done or plans set to motion.
A trap. Yessss. So simple. Fluid. The idea arrived like a smooth awakening. Thoughts, ideas, schemes, and manipulations Shabon had never known or imagined raced into the glow of her angelic mind. Create a snare—
Unheard of sounds and feelings intoxicated Shabon. Words of sugar but no substance. Sounds of destruction and chaos. Shabon found a change to her laughter.
She introduced the void to her disciples and spread the invisible tar on their forehead. The void slithered into the mind and coiled around the spheres of morality and good judgement. It squeezed and suffocated their will.
Without uttering a word, Shabon commanded her puppets to find Alex. They obeyed and traveled to each of the twelve sanctuaries. As if dead men, they walked around the world—no need or desire to stop for food, sleep, or expel waste. When the two men finally found Alex, nothing appeared amiss, and the Man of Wonder and his fellow tribe welcomed them with open arms.
The two men pounced after Alex had locked himself within a meditation box. Mind in transit and soul upon the celestial realm, his body lay alone, still, and vulnerable. Shabon’s servants slaughtered Alex’s unexpecting friends. Each woman, man, and child lost arms, legs, eyes, tongue, ears, and finally head. All in that order. The men of death spread the dismembered limbs in grotesque configurations and created abominations loosely resembling humans. Nightmarish figures of amalgamated horror—set loose to keep men in line.
A fate worse than death ensnared Alex. While his body experienced the same slice and dice through the abattoir, his mind and soul remained trapped and divided within two planes of existence, separate from the physical realm.
His consciousness had arrived too late. Despite his best efforts, without body, Alex’s mind and soul could only influence the invisible particles to produce whispers. Shabon’s men ignored him. Those left alive, deaf to his call.
Without idea or hope, Alex coasted to the one Celestial who would save him from this fate.
“Chazon. I need help.”
But the angel feigned sleep.
“Chazon. Something’s wrong.”
The angel remained still in the shadows. Lost in the rest of blissful ignorance. The atoms, however, whispered Chazon’s thoughts.
Be a man and deal with it yourself. It’s not my problem.
Don’t be dramatic.
That celestial hand, once a glow of gold now cracked with the bloody lines of black void, cast Alex’s consciousness away.
Weightless in a realm of no matter. Cold. Colorless. Quiet. Shadows of Earth reflected into the realm of Between. Stuck. Trapped. Shabon, the wrathful bitch. Chazon the slothful shit. Their betrayal a knife in his heart and back. And scorched into the atoms of wherever Alex floated, the dismembered limbs of his leftover friends flickered with the fire of homage and sacrifice—spelling the words Shabon.
Alex didn’t know if a man could kill an angel, but he would search for a method. And if one wasn’t available, he would create one.