Michael looked down at the small infant in his arms. It was a wonder! He had been with God since the beginning and had seen many wonders with the creation of the world. But this was something all together different. Michael looked up at Uriel who was sitting next to him with the other infant in her arms.
“What do we call them?” Michael asked.
“They’re humans,” Uriel answered.
“But do they have names?” asked Michael.
“That one,” she gestured to the infant in Michael’s arms with her elbow, “is Eve and this one,” she lifted the infant in her own arms slightly, “is Adam.”
“Adam and Eve,” Michael whispered.
“What are you supposed to do with them?” Michael asked.
“God asked me to watch over them. He said to pick one other angel and that we’d be their guardians,” she said.
“Guardians.” Michael looked down again at the little infant in his arms.
“You know what’s strange?” Uriel asked.
“What?” Michael looked at her again.
“They have no wings.” She lifted Adam and leaned him gently against her chest so she could pull down the blanket to reveal his back.
Michael stared. No wings? Michael ran his fingers gently across Eve’s back and felt no wings there either. But how could there be no wings?
“So, they’re not like us,” Michael said.
“No God said they are mortal. That they will start out small and grow into adults like the trees. They will also die like the tree.” She looked at the small group of apple trees standing next to them. She looked sad.
“Mortal.” Michael also looked at the trees. He wondered what it would be like to have his body change everyday. He’d always been as he was and couldn’t imagine being any other way…
Michael sat in the apple tree, watching the two children play. Their laughter rose up on the wind and carried joy to the angel’s heart. He was so happy that Uriel had chosen him. What an amazing gift she had given him! He was always taken aback by how much they changed. When ever he returned from time away from them, it was shocking to see them with their new bodies. He wondered how much time would pass before they were adults. He felt that time was changing too. He’d been in this world since the beginning and up until now, time seemed to stretch out before him and behind him into infinity. It never seemed to matter if time passed or not. But now, these children marked the passing of time with their faces. Every moment that passed with them was magical. Every moment spent separate from them was lost. This was the first time he’d become aware of how time only marched forward, he could never go back to when Uriel first laid Eve into his arms…
Adam ran over to the large tree heavy with bright red fruit. Adam plucked a huge apple from the lower branches. Michael swooped down from the tree and landed next to Adam.
“That fruit is from the Tree of Knowledge,” Michael said.
Adam looked up at him with puzzled eyes. “It looks so yummy, Michael.”
“God does not want you to eat of the Fruit of Knowledge because it would cause you much suffering,” Michael explained.
“Alright, I’ll eat that fruit then!” Adam discarded the Fruit of Knowledge and pointed to another tree heavy with apples. Adam ran to the other tree and took a small yellow fruit from it. He ate it with immense pleasure.
Michael picked up the Fruit of Knowledge and looked at it. He couldn’t see that it looked any different then any other apple. He wondered what that apple would taste like. And he wondered why the Tree of Knowledge always bore such large fruit. Was there really so much to put into a single piece of fruit? Michael sighed and threw the fruit away. Then he wondered why God had created the Tree of Knowledge if no one was allowed to eat the fruit. Maybe when the children were older they and the fruit would be ready…
Michael was sitting under a tree with Eve cuddled in his lap and Adam pulling on his wings. They were as large as he was now and the only apparent differences between him and them were their lack of wings and their continued child-like wonder.
“When will I grow wings?” Adam asked.
“You won’t grow wings,” Michael answered.
“Why not?” Adam asked.
“Because you are a human and I am an angel. God made you and Eve to be special. The only two of your kind,” Michael explained.
“I don’t feel special,” Adam stated. “Wings seem special.”
“It is often easier to see what is special in other things then in yourself,” Uriel said as she stepped from behind the tree and gently laid her hand on Adam’s shoulder.
Michael looked up at her and felt something different inside of himself. He felt like he and Uriel were a single thing. In many ways, he felt closer to Uriel then he did to God. He wondered if that was wrong.
“I have to go and speak with God,” Uriel said. “I will send Lucifer to watch the children so that you can do your work as well.”
Uriel spread out her ruby wings. Where the sun light caught the feathers, they glimmered with a soft golden light. She easily rose into the air with a slight swirl of air around them.
Michael was sure that she was the most beautiful of all the angels. He watched the sky long after he could no longer make out her silhouette against the blue. He moved again only when Eve leaped up from his lap with an excited cry. He looked and saw Lucifer striding towards them.
“Lucifer!” she cried.
Eve ran towards him and threw herself into his arms. Lucifer caught her up easily and lifted her up over his head. “Hello sunshine!” He flew off the ground a little ways and smiled up at her as she squealed with joy.
Eve loved Lucifer the most because he was the only angel that would let her fly. She loved being high up in the air. It amazed her how everything fell away and became so small. The other angels always seemed afraid to carry her that way.
Michael rose and stretched. He’d been sitting in one place too long.
Lucifer landed next to Michael and let Eve down. She ran away, calling for Adam to tell him of Lucifer’s arrival. Michael couldn’t help glaring at Lucifer. He hated the way Lucifer carried Eve like that. What would happen if she fell?
Lucifer sighed at him. “Stop looking at me that way.”
Michael shook his head. “I don’t like it.”
“I know, but she loves it.”
Michael turned to look the way that Eve had gone. “I just worry.”
Lucifer laid his hand on Michael’s shoulder and said, “I think that’s what Guardians are supposed to do.”
Michael laughed. “Yeah, I think it might be!”
“They are beautiful. I admire what you and Uriel do here,” Lucifer seemed sad.
“What’s wrong?” Michael asked.
“I wished your time with them could last forever.”
Michael smiled sadly, remembering the strange thoughts about time that he’d been having. Was it possible that Lucifer was also aware of the way that time had changed?
“It will last long enough,” Michael whispered. “It has to be enough.” He blinked back the tears that came to his eyes and struggled with the strange swirl of emotions that rose up inside him.
“Of course, you’re right,” Lucifer said.
Again, Michael got the impression that Lucifer was sad about something. It seemed like more then just the children. But it didn’t seem like he was ready to talk about it. Michael knew that Lucifer would talk when he was ready.
“Well, the others are waiting for me,” Michael said and lifted himself into the sky.
Lucifer waved to him and then turned to go find Eve.
Michael flew up to the work site and surveyed they area. The wall around Eden was almost complete. He swooped down and landed next to Gabriel.
“You’ve made great progress,” Michael said, glancing up to the wall.
“We’re getting there!” Gabriel glowed with her smile and her pink eyes sparkled. She was tired, but satisfied with the work they had done.
“Where is Zadiel?” Michael asked.
“She’s left already. She and Uriel had to meet with God.”
Michael nodded. He should have guessed that. While Uriel was the only angel that could hear God’s voice, she always took Zadiel with her to the listening mound. Sometimes she collapsed when God spoke to her and she felt better knowing that someone was with her.
Jophiel walked up to Michael and they hugged in greeting.
“Where’s Raphael?” Michael asked.
Jophiel laughed. “Late as usual!”
“Well, you two go ahead and get some rest. I’m sure he will be along shortly.”
Jophiel and Gabriel nodded and left. They had worked hard and were looking forward to getting cleaned and rested.
Michael looked up at the wall again. They were so close now. He was sure that He and Raphael could finish it before the others returned if they worked really hard. He wondered again why God had wanted a wall built around Eden.
“Hey, you dreaming?” Raphael asked.
Michael jumped. He hadn’t even heard him approach.
They laughed together.
“Well, let’s get started!” Raphael picked up a brick and smiled at Michael.
“We’ve been work partners for a long time now,” Michael said.
“Yes, we have.” Raphael was puzzled by the strange mood of his friend, but Michael often had moods that Raphael couldn’t understand.
“When the next assignments come up, I will be glad if we work together again.” Michael smiled, but it was sad.
“I’d be happy too!” Raphael said and was glad to see that his made Michael happier.
Lucifer went to the Tree of Knowledge and picked an apple. He looked down at it a long time. His hand trembled with fear. He knew what he had to do, but he wished that it didn’t have to be done. He thought about it all again.
Uriel had asked him to go to the listening mound with her since Zadiel wasn’t able to. He’d been happy to go. The listening mound was a peaceful place. It was a small hill that rose up and over looked a shallow pond. It was quiet there which is why Uriel liked listening there. He’d sat next to her, waiting and enjoying the warm sun.
That’s when Uriel took his hand and began to speak to him. This had never happened on his other trips to the listening mound but Zadiel had spoken of times that Uriel had been so filled with God’s voice that she spoke as God’s mouth. He knew this was one of those times.
“Lucifer, my Right Hand and favored angel,” Uriel said. Her voice was not her own; it was deep and rich rather than the feathery light voice she normally had.
This was the voice of God.
“Adam and Eve must fall.”
“Fall? I don’t understand,” Lucifer said.
“They are my children, created in my image. They could learn to be gods.”
Lucifer gasped. Gods? He tried to imagine Eve as a god. He couldn’t.
“But wisdom comes only with pain. They must eat the Fruit of Knowledge and come to know of both good and evil.”
“Good and evil? I don’t understand.” Lucifer shook his head. He struggled to understand what he was hearing.
“They must know in order to have free will.”
“I don’t understand!” Lucifer cried, taking hold of Uriel.
“You cannot as you are now. You will eat of the Fruit of Knowledge and then you will come to know.”
Uriel sagged against him. He held her tightly and wept. When she roused, he was still weeping.
“Lucifer?” She gently touched the tears on his cheeks. She and Michael had been the only angels that knew how to cry…What had caused him to learn?
“God told me-“
Uriel laid a finger against his lips. “What God spoke to you was for you alone.”
“But I can’t bare it!” Lucifer said.
“God promised to never give us work that we could not bear.”
Now he looked down at the fruit. He was frightened, because he could not understand. He took a large bite of the apple. It was bitter and hot in his mouth. He wanted to spit it out, but he made himself chew and swallow. He groaned, feeling the difference immediately. Everything came crashing into his mind, pounding down on him and then falling away. Most of it fell past him before he could grab hold of it. But there were things he grasped and came to understand. As he stood beneath the tree and struggled with the Knowledge, Eve came to him and took his hand. He dropped the apple and fell to his knees before her. His feathers showered down around them, falling from his wings like snow.
“Lucifer?” Eve touched his face.
He clutched her. He was terrified of all that he saw and understood. He knew what he needed to do and he knew why. Why these children? A mottled emotion rose up inside him. He wanted to protect Eve, to keep as his beautiful sunshine. He also wanted her to spread her wings. He knew she had them now. They were inside, on her soul. If she spread them, she could fly up to God. She could become a God. He wanted to fly with her. Why hadn’t God given his soul wings?
“Lucifer?” Eve was frightened.
He let her go and looked at her a moment before picking up the apple. He touched her cheek.
“Forgive me.” He held the apple out to her.
She didn’t take it. Why was he looking at her like that? She was still afraid.
“You need to take a bite of this.”
She took the apple and stared at it only briefly before she took a bite. He wept. He hated himself for betraying her faith and for destroying her. But he knew now that nothing could be created unless something was destroyed. He looked down at his hands. He knew their work now and he hated that to, but he would bare it.
Michael held Uriel close to him. He knew that he was the only one that could release her from this torment that Lucifer had placed her in. But he would have to kill her. But how could he? He stroked her mangled cheek gently. Her hair had once been a glorious gold with ruby highlights, but now it was burned and had melted together in a heap beside her face.
“I’ll be alright,” she whispered. Her voice was thick and heavy with the sounds of the fluid that bubbled up out of her lungs as she spoke. She looked up at him. Her gold eyes were dulled from the pain, but were still brighter then his had ever been.
“You don’t know that,” Michael whispered back.
“I am a servant of God and my commission of service is for all time. When I die, I will join with the stars of heaven and I will continue to serve him even then.”
He put his hand on her mouth. It was so hard for her to speak and harder for him to listen. He stretched his wings up and out behind him. They were his glory and his power. He could feel the energy they gave him pulsing down into him. Blue feathers fell from the wings and swirled down around him. Their leaving exposed the leathery structures beneath. He knew what this meant. Lucifer’s wings has lost all their feathers and now stood behind him as leathery and boney expanses of rebellion. But how could this rage he felt now be against the will of God? Surely, God could not want one of his beloved, his Voice, to be as she is now! Lucifer must suffer for this! Tears showered down amongst the falling feathers.
“Kill me,” she begged.
He knew he must. He wasn’t strong enough to restore her to what she was. But, he was strong enough to destroy her. The other angels had tried, but they could not break the bond that Lucifer had made. This present was for him to unwrap. That’s how Lucifer wanted it. The falling feathers made clear the why.
He ripped out her throat.
The glorious light in her eyes faded then died. She was gone. Her body crumbled and faded as well, leaving nothing of her, but the stain of blood on his left hand. His skin would remain red with her blood forever; just the way that Lucifer’s body was now red with the blood of the angels he’d slain and bathed in. It had never been enough for Lucifer to kill an angel. He’d always had to torture them. The torture of one angel was the torment of all the angels; so many had fallen from grace from their wrath. Many felt the wrath so strong that they became one of the new breed.
More feathers fell from Michael’s wings.
He stood and turned to look at the others. They looked at him and knew what the swirling feathers meant. There was nothing that they could say. How does one catch a falling angel? None of them knew. All the angels that had begun to loose feathers had all fallen. None had regained the grace of God.
Raphael was the only one who was looking at him. It hurt Michael to see the others advert their eyes. Raphael caught a blue feather in his hand and gently brought it to his lips. His kiss was one of healing, but this seemed too large a wound even for the Spirit of God.
The others hands were also red, but their feathers remained secure on their wings. Michael briefly wondered how they could kill their brothers and sisters and not feel what he felt burning inside of him. He struggled with it and managed to push it aside. He felt the usual clam settle itself over him. For now, he would continue to serve God and when he fell… no he would not fall!
Michael sat with his wings folded and his back against the tree. He looked down at his hand and grimaced. He could still feel the heat of her blood in his palm. He was shedding more tears and feathers, but he couldn’t help it.
“You’re doing it again,” Jophiel said, picking up one of the vibrant blue plumes.
“What am I supposed to do?” Michael looked over his shoulder at Jophiel, sitting on the tree branch behind him. “How can I defeat Lucifer?”
“You must forgive him. You must love him,” Jophiel laid his hand over Michael’s; both hands were red.
Michael snorted and jerked his hand from Jophiel’s. He harshly wiped away his tears.
“Love conquers all,” Michael said with a sigh.
“Everything comes to an end; even Lucifer’s cruelties. The only person you’re slaying now is yourself.” Jophiel brushed a lock of yellow hair from his face.
Michael nodded. He knew this. Somehow knowing and understanding with the mind wasn’t the same as feeling it in the heart.
“We have work to do,” Michael said.
He jumped down from the tree and let his wings unfold to catch him. The wind carried him upward. He soared over the scorched and broken landscape, scanning the black terrain for those of the new breed. He was a half breed himself; falling farther from the other angels every day. Half his feathers were gone now. Even as he flew, they continued to loosen and flutter away. He felt as if each feather was a moment of love in Uriel’s arms. He missed her. It felt as if nothing were real anymore.
Michael charged into the house. He knew what he would find there before he’d kicked down the door. Lucifer didn’t disappoint him.
Raphael lay in the middle of the floor. His green wings had been torn off and nailed onto the wall. Red streaks of blood ran down the wall and formed a puddle on the floor. Raphael looked up at Michael and weakly smiled. Michael knelt beside him and pulled Raphael into his arms.
“You came,” Raphael whispered with a faint smile.
“Of course I came.” Michael’s tears fell onto Raphael’s cheeks. He cried for both of them.
“He’s still here.”
Michael looked up in time to see Lucifer grab Jophiel from behind. The wings came away easily with a heavy wet tearing sound. Jophiel screamed and fell to his knees. Gabriel drew his sword and swung it towards Lucifer’s head, but the blade was knocked aside by the large black horns. Lucifer laughed and tossed Jophiel’s wings at Zadiel. She screamed and batted them away; giving Lucifer the time he needed to take hold of her by the throat.
Zadiel looked at Lucifer calmly.
“Aren’t you afraid?” Lucifer asked her.
“Angels have nothing to fear in death,” she whispered, looking towards Michael. Her violet eyes reminded him of all the love and warmth that was within the universe.
“Please, put her down,” Michael said.
“You will fall,” Lucifer said as he tossed Zadiel to the floor.
Michael pushed Raphael away from him and lurched to his feet, but he was too slow. Lucifer reached down and took hold of Zadiel’s wings. He tore them away, swinging his arms out in a wide arc with his newest treasures. Blood sprayed the room, raining across Michael’s face. Michael surged forward and crashed into Lucifer, pushing him back against the wall. Blue feathers showered behind him, leaving his wings mostly bare. Michael wrapped his red hands around Lucifer’s throat.
“Why?!” Michael screamed in his face. “You were the Right Hand of God! You were the brightest amongst the Angels!”
“I still am the Right Hand,” Lucifer whispered, bringing his face close to Michael’s ear. “And I served God when I created you.”
“Me?” Michael’s grip tightened.
Gabriel laid a gentle hand on Michael’s shoulder. “Don’t kill him.”
Michael screamed wordlessly into Lucifer’s face.
Gabriel locked the chains around Lucifer’s wrists and ankles.
“Let me bind him,” Gabriel said, holding the chain up to be clasped around Lucifer’s neck.
Michael let his hands fall away and Gabriel locked the chains in place.
“You know nothing,” Lucifer said.
“I know that you threw it all away. God gave you everything! And you took it and did this –“ Michael gestured to the broken angels laying on the floor around him.
“How do you think Adam would choose if there was no Darkness to stand against the Light?” Lucifer asked.
“No, this is not what God wanted,” Michael said.
“You are now the Wrath of God, Michael; the Destroying Angel that cuts away the Darkness so that the Light might create.” Lucifer laughed.
Michael grabbed Gabriel’s sword and raised it above his head.
“Like you I can choose!” Michael swung the sword and smashed it down at Lucifer’s feet. The earth crumbled and fell away. Lucifer fell into the Darkness. His laugh echoed up towards them long after they could no longer see him.
Michael fell to his knees at the edge of the pit and whispered “I choose the Light.”
Blue feathers sprung up along the edges of Michael’s wings, covering most of the leathery ugliness of his anger.
Gabriel gently touched Michael on the shoulder and said “Looks like even the deepest wounds can heal.”