The summons comes mid-day. Little did Nathanael know; his life would be forever changed. It arrives as the setting sunlight glistens through the reflective amber stones of his home. A tiny trumpet flares to life outside the window before a young cherub swoops in on its little wings, dropping the scroll on the ivory desk before zipping back out through the open doorway. Unrolling the scroll, he reads: Report to the Throne Room.
Directions, that’s all the Lord ever sends. The tone, as always, is immediate and commanding.
He rises to his feet and heads through the arched entranceway toward the River of Life. His wings spread and slowly they begin their rhythm, bringing him into the air.
Michael passes, his wings glistening in gold behind him. The Archangel avoids eye contact as he flies straight past. Nathanael’s fists clench in response, knowing it’s not Michael’s fault Nathanael was involuntary relocated into a position within the seven Archangels. If he had his way, he would have stayed a throne. Guarding the Throne of God was all he had ever desired. The water from the River of Life glistens beside him as he forces the thoughts deep down. He needs to right his mind before entering the Throne Room. The Lord can read him like a book. The choir grows increasingly louder as he finally lands atop the endless steps into the columned temple. Raziel meets him at the door, blocking his way with his full wingspan.
“I was summoned,” Nathanael responds to Raziel’s stern glare.
“Nathanael, it seems like inly yesterday we were in opposite positions.”
His fists clench once again. Keep it together, Nathanael. He’s just trying to rouse you before your audience with the Lord.
He offers only a nod when he passes Raziel. Nothing is going to ruin his day. He has been nothing less than exceptional since the first demotion. He almost chocked when he heard the announcement of his transfer from the Throne of God to become an Archangel. One of the main things he took pride in while being so close to God, was not being tainted by the filth of the secular world, the Earth. Archangels aren’t so lucky. Their entire job is to meddle in secular matters or sec-matters, as the Heavenly community calls them.
The columns of the altar room spread up all around him, going higher and higher, disappearing into the clouds above. This will be good news. He's been dreaming about this promotion. It's going to happen today. His steps quicken as he draws closer. If it were allowed, he would spread his wings and fly to the throne, his feet never seem to get him anywhere fast enough. Especially, right now. Pausing on the three ivory steps to the Throne Room, he throws his shoulders back and with a deep breath, climbs the steps.
He only makes it a few strides before the glory of God brings him to one knee. Cherubs fly around with harps and horns playing nothing but praise. His eyes dart everywhere but directly at the light of God. The paintings lining the walls seem brighter than he remembers. How long has it been since he was here? Time is incalculable in the graces of Heaven, but it seems like forever in his soul. This was his favorite place. He was standing in this exact spot when he protected the Lord from the second century invasion. The Throne Room had become his sanctuary, the one place he meant something. Now, he has no place.
"Nathanael." A booming voice sends the cherubs flying out of the room. The voice echoes in the space between them.
He bows. "Yes, Lord."
“You have an assignment”.
Nathanael attempts to hide the smile in his bow, but it’s obviously written across his face. A female Virtue with hair pink as the sunset brings him a scroll. Taking it in his hands, he slowly unrolls it to read his next assignment:
Notice of Reassignment
Assignment: Guardian to Human
Report immediately to Coordinates: 42.3064’N, 78.0164’W
“I… don’t understand.” An Archangel sent to guard a Sec? It’s ludicrous and unheard of!
“Report immediately.” The Lord’s voice calls his entire body into action; spine straightening in response.
“Yes Lord.” He lowers his head, suddenly losing his excitement. Without another command, he turns and leaves the Throne Room. With every receding step, his shoulders slump a little more. Raziel is still outside the temple entrance. The scroll in Nathanael’s hand incinerates, sending ashes onto the ivory floors of the coliseum as he approaches his rival.
Nathanael attempts to straighten his posture. “I’m to report to Earth.”
“To Earth?” Raziel scoffs, “For what?”
What does he have to lose? Word of his reassignment will spread eventually.
“To be a Guardian.”
Raziel breaks into laughter, collapsing over to lean on his knees. “A Guardian?” he cackles. Each sound echoes in Nathanael’s head only to come back and mock him once more.
“I have to go.” Nathanael turns and descends the steps.
“My how the mighty have fallen,” Raziel boasts from the edge where he looms above.
His fists are so clenched, his nails make marks in his palms. If he could feel pain, they would probably ache. He wanders down the pathway alongside the river by foot. Mindlessly, he walks through the Pearly Gates, not even bothering to waive to Saint Peter before his feet pause at the edge of the clouds. Below him lies a completely different world-Earth. He was only sent there twice over the past few months-earthly time-on assignment as an Archangel.
Now, he takes in the winding roads and the cloud of smog humans have created in an otherwise perfect realm. His first time to Earth, he took one whiff of the air and didn't breathe until returning to Heaven. Secs have a way of destroying everything Angels work so hard to keep thriving. Secs, the Secular world, Raziel is right. The mighty have fallen.
Before he can change his mind, his wings burst open. There's no way he's going to ruin everything he's ever worked for. Even if it appears to be hopeless now, the Lord always has a purpose. He will prove his worth-if it's the last thing he ever does. His feathers twitch, anxious for the air. With one last breath of the clean, fresh air of Heaven, he dives toward the surface.
His wings carry him lower and lower. They spin him around in circles causing his usually perfect hair to flap all about. This long descent is the best part of this whole thing. It’s the most air he’s ever experienced, making him feel like a dove: determined and free.
He begins to lose some of his excitement as the trees below grow bigger and bigger. Just as he's about to enter the first few branches, he pulls up and straightens out flying over them instead. He's just not... ready. The line of trees ceases, and an endless sight of houses sprout up underneath him. His wings spread wide and flap up and down causing him to hover above the town.
What am I doing? I need to report. Responding to his thoughts, his wings turn his body around, taking him back toward coordinates 42.3064' N, 78.0164' W.
Nathanael's feet pace their way across the pavement for the hundredth time before turning to do it over again. The coordinates took him to a blue farmhouse nestled along the tree line.
The house is still, sitting on a quiet, dead-end street with nothing but the sound of the woods around. A hooting owl in the distance makes him jump slightly. He will have to get used to sounds like that down on Earth. He takes one more look down the bleak street. It's so... dark, how can he ever get used to it here?
Finally, he succumbs to reality. This is his life now, whether he likes it or not. Time to get to work before he's even further demoted-if that were possible. However, if he's learned anything in this life-it's that anything is possible. With one last deep breath, his long, plush wings extend from his back with one swift movement. They sprout out past his arms in a glorious, pure white not visible on the secular plane. With one gust, they make him airborne and with a few more, his feet land on the roof. The shades in the room below him are drawn, but a dim light emanates from behind them. A sigh escapes his lips as he closes his eyes and swings down from the roof. He takes a step into the exterior wall. His body goes rigid, the blue siding of the house shimmers as he enters. The vortex pulls him completely through, the smell of wood lingers on his nose as he opens his eyes on the other side.
Whoa. It's apparent he's not in Heaven any longer. This Sec confines herself to a small room-like a prison. It's crowded with pictures, books, and piles of clothes that make it feel even smaller. Looking at all the clothes this Sec has, he stands there, wondering why anyone would need so much clothing. Angels only ever wear robes. Nathanael continues to wander around the room before making himself comfortable at a desk in the corner. Propping his feet up on the top, he tosses an arm over his eyes to block out the light and begins to mentally prepare for the mundane earthly life he's just tumbled into.
The door opens. He doesn't even bother to lift his arm off his forehead. The rules state all he has to do is protect the subject. That is all. He doesn't have to get involved past that. A thump causes his arm to drop. Her purse now sits on the floor, its contents strewn all over the ground, but she doesn't appear to care. His attention gravitates to her bright auburn hair. It's so vibrant. Not even the Angels of Heaven could compete.
"Like, are you kidding me?" she mumbles into something at her ear while pacing across the floor. "We both know I deserved that raise!" She whips around to face him, her hazel eyes alive with anger. He's certainly happy he's invisible to human eyes. He can't imagine her giving him that look.
She continues, "I know, my time will come, but Amanda, it's a promotion to Florida. I just wanted a change of scenery; I thought this might be it."
The other end of the thing begins erupting in muffled voices. The Sec continues, "I know, I'll miss you, too. However, some things you have to do for yourself." She pauses. "All right, I'll see you tomorrow. Bye."
She hits a button on the small rectangular object in her hand. Her legs still pace until she collapses onto the edge of her bed, a sigh escaping her lips.
Another thing Nathanael hates about Secs, they have a flair for the dramatic-always whining and crying when things don't go their way. Instead of working for something, they attempt to pray it into existence. He's witnessed the power of prayer first hand, but he harbors no sympathy for those that don't fight for what they want. This one seems to be in the latter category. Throwing his arm back over his eyes, he zones out while this new charge of his rummages around her room.
It only takes her a few hours before she turns all the lights out and climbs into bed. The next couple of hours should be a breeze. He was always semi-fascinated with the idea of a secular body that needs periods of rest to recharge. The idea of wasting hours upon hours of the day sleeping just seems strange for a being the Lord created an entire planet for. Watching the girl sleep, he realizes that he has all the time in the world to study it now. The Almighty has a sick sense of humor sometimes.
Nathanael remains in the shadows of the room for most of the night. He picks up nothing but the sounds of the girl's shallow breathing in this small room. The night outside is quiet as well. It's strange not to constantly hear a background chorus of worshipping music. The quiet is almost eerie. That's why, when the Secular girl turns her head and mutters something, he hears it. A strange word that shouldn't even be on her lips-a word that makes Nathanael furious and energized all at once. One word that will wake him up and put him on high alert. The only name that is dreaded above all others in the clouds of Heaven.
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