Raguel perched down in front of the altar of God.
He whispered the words under his breath as he did every day.
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life."
By the time he had finished his prayers he knew he wasn't alone. He crossed himself still taking his time to speak a few more personal words to God. He asked God for strength in the coming days. He would need it.
"I'm sorry to disturb you," the voice behind him stated.
Raguel didn't get up. He stayed on his knees. Many times he sat there thinking about it. He knew who it was before the person even spoke. Raguel didn't have a third eye like Cham watching the past, the present and the future for him. Raguel had to rely on faith to get him through. That is what he always relied on.
"Father Jensen," Raguel stated.
The pastor looked over at him and smiled acknowledging him, "God favors me that you've come to my church today. It's a fine blessing. An angel of God here before me."
The pastor looked at Raguel with knowing eyes. His eyes were full of admiration. The pastor knew who he was. There were some of faith that were aware of the battle between angels and fallen angels. The church had gathered around Raguel since he was a child, providing everything he needed in anticipation of the days to come. The support had rose all the way to the top.
"Half- angel," Raguel corrected him, "And I'm sorry. I have no blessings to give."
"Your presence alone is a blessing. A good omen."
It had happened often. Those who knew who Raguel was and what his purpose was on Earth treated him like something that he never was. He was used to it though. Unlike the others who had been found, Raguel had been born knowing his purpose. His mother was a devout Christian nun who was impregnated by an Archangel. Since birth it was always Raguel's mission to gather the defenders of Earth. His mother had made sure he knew was well prepared up until the day that she was conquered by her own sins and left the world.
Raguel shook his head at Father Jensen. He admired the man. Jensen was a pure soul. Raguel knew that Michael's mother visited Jensen's church often and he shared with Jensen his true identity. It didn't take much convincing. One call from higher authorities and Jensen was now an agent for Raguel to be used as he saw fit.
"I have business here. That is all. I need you to deliver a message to Vatican city," Raguel stated, "We have retreated the from the first demon and he still ruins this world. He goes by the name Leviathan."
"I'll deliver it."
"You look pale. You know him?"
The priest nodded, "Revelation 13:1 - And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."
Raguel was impressed. There were few besides him that he had come across...even preachers, that could quote the bible so honestly besides himself. There would be more to needed however. There would be more needed besides quotes and knowledge and verses. Action was needed. The beast from the sea was upon them.
"He took from us one of our own, in the darkness," Raguel stated, "I've searched the bible for any weaknesses---but there were none in the verses."
He felt this feeling of abandonment all of a sudden. It was wild and angry. Raguel had to pull the feeling back in before it took off.
"He took an angel?"
Raguel felt like a failure. He had been hoping to keep this from the Vatican. He had been hoping to save himself the embarrassment. They looked up to him. They even worshipped him at times. It was them that told him there was a prophet in DC by the name of Chamuel. It was them that told him to seek Chamuel out. Now he had lost Chamuel, the favorite of his angels, in a battle that he wasn't even apart of.
He had failed.
"Things are becoming desperate. Especially with Chamuel gone and Michael being resistant to us. Friction is starting among us. I think they've forgotten who the enemy was."
"I don't envy your burden. Is there anything the church can do for you Raguel. Anything at all?"
"Resources. And prayers."
Raguel finally got up off his feet. He watched how the priest looked at him. There was this hope.
"Send me an invoice directly and I'll make sure the Vatican takes care of it. I'll also make sure the Pope is aware of who the first enemy is. If you need anything at all----"
"I need the archangels..."
The priest looked over at him, "You know they cannot directly interfere. The war in heaven is over, Raguel. This is the war on Earth."
In other words...he was on his own. The angels were turning a blind eye. Raguel knew this since the beginning however. The angels had given seven the tools to defend the Earth and then they had gone. Raguel wondered if they watched from heaven.
"I'll keep you updated if I have anything else."
The priest looked like he was going to say something else. Maybe he was going to give him some words of encouragement. Raguel didn't need words though. Raguel needed Cham back. Maybe it was Raguel's facial expression that made the priest go silent.
Raguel walked away. He could see the eyes on him. So much hope was in the eyes of the priest. Even when Raguel was a child his mother looked at him the same way. All this hope. The burden that was placed on him was something that he had wondered about so many nights. Why him? Why was he one of the seven?
If the lost this war...nothing would stop the darkness on Earth.
“How'd you sleep?”
“I need to get to work...” I stated.
“You should quit,” Uri stated, “You know you should. You have other responsibilities Michael. Come with me...come back to the office with me and Cham.”
I looked over at him. The hurt in his eyes shook my mind at that point.
“Whose going to pay my bills? You?” I asked.
“If I have to,” Uri stated, “We need you. I need you.”
I looked over at Uri. He had a way of making me feel bad. I hated the idea of being stuck in this. I felt like I was being convinced to change my life without me wanting to do it. I looked over at Cham. He was still asleep laying down.
“I'll take Cham with you and I may call off today, but I'm not quitting my job,” I insisted.
“You're softening up to me,” Uri stated, “Is that a smile I see...oh...shit...that is a smile. Michael Vorhees is smiling at me.”
I couldn't believe he was making me smile.
I couldn't believe this asshole was making my heart beat heavier.
“Can you please stop?”
“No why would I? Then you would stop smiling.”
“That's the point,” I stated trying so hard not to smile.
Uri tilted his head as though trying to get a better look at my smile, “I don't get it. You are always so serious. You always have that Kanye stare on your face. You have one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen in my life.”
Was he...flirting with me?
I wasn't sure.
“I'm sure I don't.”
That was when Uri did it. Uri put his hand on my cheek. He put his hand on my cheek and I melted like a school girl who just had her first crush. I never reacted like this to any boy in my life. By now my smile had spread so wide that I couldn't it back any longer. My smile had gotten so wide that I was showing all of my teeth. Uri looked at me so intensely.
Uri was almost...looking through me!
He licked his lips at at that moment. His tongue lashed across his lower lips in the sexiest way that I had ever seen. I mean I thought it was impossible for someone to be as sexy as he was being right now unless he was trying. Was he really flirting with me?
“There's something about you...” he stated.
“I'll take that as a compliment.”
At that moment Cham tossed a little bit. I was wondering if I heard him snicker at first. I looked over at Uri. Uri didn't seem to notice.
I'd been calling off so much lately. Uri looked over at me and smiled.
“You should. It just brightens my day seeing you smile like that---you know? Well. I'll bring the car around to the front so you guys don't have to walk in the cold. Think it snowed last night. Why don't you wake up Cham?”
He smiled at me. I hated the way he smiled at me with those pearly white teeth. I hated the way his dimples showed when he smiled. He had these deep attractive dimples that pissed me off. I hated how his eyes squinted and stared at me making me feel like I was the only one in world.
He walked out of the room all of a sudden, chuckling as I crossed my arms with resistance.
I couldn't believe I was calling off again.
I couldn't believe I was calling off again...because of Uri.
“I know you're up,” I stated, “You can stop pretending to be asleep.”
Cham sprung up at that moment. He was quite quick for someone who had just been taken by demons. He looked back to his own self smiling in his wild corny way.
“Was that your third eye?” he asked.
“No. It's called common sense.”
I didn't have the abilities that he had. Rag had said that Cham's third eye was much more in depth than mine. If my third eye had to do with the weird dreams I had every so often then I figured it was pretty much useless. None of the dreams ever really made any sense.
“I wasn't trying to disturb you and your boo,” Cham stated.
“You know what I'm talking about,”Cham replied crossing his eyes with this glare as though he had cast some spell and was waiting for it's effects to kick in.
I didn't trust him.
“I don't know what you're talking about,” I replied.
I turned away. I didn't know why. I didn't know how his third eye worked. I figured maybe if I didn't look him in his eyes he wouldn't be able to see how I felt about Uri. I didn't want anyone to know how I really felt about Uri. The more people knew, the harder it was to resist. I couldn't allow myself to be weak for anyone like that.
“You care about him,” Cham stated, “You want to hide it...but you care deeply about him. You don't want to but it's hard for you.”
My heart raced. This boy was more powerful than I thought. It was frightening.
“I don't. Besides it doesn't matter. He's straight...right?”
“You confuse them.”
“Uri and Raphael,” Cham replied smiling, “I do believe they are straight but there is something about you that allures them. The archangel Michael gives you more abilities. He is the strongest archangel after all. One of those is a charm. It's all over you. I can see it...right here in my eye.”
He tapped the middle of his forehead.
“So you're saying the only reason that Uri pays me any attention is because of some ability that I have.”
“A blessing...ability. All the same. People are drawn to you. It's powerful. Just like the archangel Michael. I see a blue light ray...all around you. People are attracted to it. They will follow that blue light. It's could make you a leader if you embraced it.”
“So what you're saying is Uri is attracted to the light and not me---”
“It's more complicated then that.”
“No it's not...I think you just simplified a lot.”
It all made sense now. This connection that Uri seemed to have with me had nothing to do with attraction. I just had an aura around me that attracted him. It was nothing more than an angelic ability that I didn't know about.
Just at that moment Uri walked into the room. Cham had got quiet as soon as he did. Uri smiled as he walked into the room. It was the look that he gave me before. It was the look that he gave me so many times before and for some reason.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked.
It was almost like he could see something else. The way he was looking at me was almost like he was in a daze. Why had I never noticed it before? Why had I never noticed the fact that Uri's pupils shrunk when he looked at me. It was almost as though his eyes were taking in a light of some sort. I noticed it now. I saw how he smiled...seeming comforted by something. He was attracted by something...but it had nothing to do with me.
He was attracted to a goddam light.
“Sorry,” Uri stated, “The cars out front.”
I hadn't talked the whole way in the car. Cham couldn't shut the fuck up. He kept talking about the night and describing how scared he was to Uri. I sat in the backseat of Uri's car. I didn't say a word. I just sat quietly. A part of me was wondering why I didn't bring my own car. It would have been so much easier when it was time to leave.
I noticed Uri looking at me in the rearview mirror while he spoke to Cham. Every few minutes he just stared at me. He was just staring at this light.
It made me sick.
All this time I thought there was some connection between us. I thought things were real. Nothing was real.
“Cham----oh my god...CHAM!”
We had walked into the office building. I watched as Raphael ran at Cham. He didn't acknowledge the rest of us. The others seemed just as excited. I watched as they all crowded around Cham. They were all there. Even Raguel was there. He stood off to the side with a smile on his face. A part of me was happy to see that they enjoyed him so much.
No would would ever be so happy to see me though. I stood off to the side, quietly in a corner. Seeing how they looked at Cham I realized that I didn't belong here. I didn't fit in to the group.
“You going to stand over here all by yourself?” Uri asked.
I hated that he came over to me. I had stood off to the side on purpose. They were asking Cham a ton of questions about what happened to him. They were asking him a ton of questions about how he got back. Every now and then someone looked over to me. Maybe they were suspicious about the fact that Cham returned on my doorstep.
Maybe they were just attracted to this fucking blue light that Cham was talking about.
“That was the plan. Think you just ruined it,” I stated bluntly rolling my eyes.
“Well that's not a bad thing. We're friends now. So you don't have to be alone anymore.”
He sounded so honest. I almost wanted to believe it. I always wanted to believe that what he was saying was sincere but now I knew better. Now I knew that I thought from the beginning.
None of this was real.
It was all a lie...it was all a mirage just like the ones that Raguel created.
“I'm not your friend---let's be clear.”
I wasn't joking. I wasn't being smart either. I was dead ass serious. I was looking at Uri with intense eyes. I wanted him to know just how serious he was. The look that he gave me when in return almost made me feel bad. Uri was a masculine, manly kind of man but at times his face softened as though showing his vulnerabililities.
Maybe my light had dimmed for him...
“Did I do something to you?” he asked, “You've been mean mugging me since we left the house this morning.”
I didn't respond.
“I'm going back to work.”
“Yo what the fuck is your problem?”
I didn't reply. I felt like one of those fly lights outside. The fly got close to the light and got zapped. That's all this situation was. Uri was the fly. I was the light.
Uri would get too close to me and...
He didn't want that.
I was doing him a favor.
“Tell them I said I'll be around sometime.”
The others were too busy paying Cham attention to really notice me walking away. I had a feeling Uri was going to stop me. I think he started saying a few words but by that point I was over it.
Uriel didn't understand it. He thought he was finally bringing down Michael's wall. Every time he got close to Michael and Michael seemed like he was opening up, he would just shut down again. Today was the much was than before.
Uriel was half paying attention to Chamuel's story and half wondering what was going on with Michael.
“----The devil, I tell you. The devil himself,” Chamuel was saying, “Man I thought I was done for ok. I think I did a number 2 right there. Man no...fuck that. I think I invented a number 3 when I heard that voice.”
“You're so full of shit,” Ariel stated.
“I swear on everything. He met me. I believe Leviathan wanted to kill me but the devil wanted me alive. He wanted me to come back to tell you guys that something else is coming. Something bigger is coming in a few days.”
“What is it?” Raguel asked.
Chamuel shrugged his shoulders.
“We already have Leviathan to deal with,” Gabriel told them, “Do you think we can handle any more enemies right now? Clearly we fell apart.”
“We need to train our abilities,” Raguel told them, “We need to work together. Michael needs to learn---Michael? Where's Michael?”
Uriel was a little irritated that they just realized that Michael was gone. Like the others he was glad that Uriel was back but it had been almost thirty minutes before Michael had snuck out and no one noticed. He didn't understand how they could talk about unity when no one paid attention to him. It was almost like no one seemed to notice that Michael was troubled and Michael needed help. No one seemed to care about Michael but him.
“He's gone,” Uriel told them.
“So much for working together,” Raphael stated.
Uriel had a feeling that none of them really seemed surprised that Michael was gone again. Uriel was surprised though. He honestly thought that maybe Michael was putting down that wall. Maybe Michael was accepting his fate.
“We can't do this without him,” Raguel stated.
“I can go bring him back.”
Raguel shook his head, “No. No, give him time.”
“How much time are we going to give him?” Gabriel questioned, “We need to move on without him. We have Raphael's healing touch, we have Cham's third eye back. We have your manipulations, Rag. Uri and I can go on the offensive. I can train Uri to help me attack. We don't need him.”
“Clearly you don't need me either?” Ariel stated.
Uriel sighed. It was like Gabriel to leave Ariel out. Uriel suspected that Gabriel had done it on purpose.
“You went into hiding remember,” Gabriel pointed out.
Sometimes Uriel liked Gabriel but other times she came off as someone who was really just a bitch. She acted like she was above the rest of them. She was strong, yes, but there were 7 of them. All of this didn't surround Gabriel. It was becoming a turn off for him to see someone act like she was so above the rest of them.
“You know what---maybe Michael has a point,” Ariel stated, “I'm leaving.”
“Ariel wait...” Uriel attempted to stop her.
“Leave her. She's useless,” Gabriel replied.
Ariel walked out of the room at that moment.
“Why do you have to be such a bitch?” Uriel asked Gabriel.
He hadn't meant it to come out so harsh but he just had to keep it real. Uriel felt like everyone looked at him as the nice guy but he hadn't always been this way. He had once been troubled and depressed in life---like Michael. He had once been scared and confused like Ariel.
There used to be people like Gabriel that would him down all the time.
“Excuse me?” Gabriel asked, “Uri---since when do you talk to me like that?”
“He's right...you're acting like one,” Raguel stated.
Uriel was glad Raguel had taken his side. Gabriel was being impossible. She stood there at that moment in her dramatic way standing tall and honestly beautiful. Maybe that was what really turned Uriel off from Gabriel all of a sudden. Once he had been attracted to how strong and beautiful she was. He was attracted to her confidence. Now her confidence was weighing heavy on the rest of them.
“Don't forget who saved your asses back at in that train station,” Gabriel stated, “But since I'm the bad guy...how about I be the bad guy. Let's see how far you guys get on your own.”
Gabriel made the most dramatic exit at that moment leaving the room. Uriel wasn't surprised when Raphael chased behind her. Between the two of them, Uriel figured there wasn't enough ego to be had. Some of the others would probably have thought Michael was the egotistical one but Uriel saw different. Michael's attitude came from pain. Michael's attitude came from fear. Michael was nothing more than someone afraid of his own shadow not knowing that it would never leave him.
“Great...” Raguel stated.
“They'll be back,” Chamuel stated.
“Did you get a vision?”
Chamuel shook his head, “No. Just common sense. There's something that keeps all the rest of us coming back here. You know. Something draws us in...just like Michael's light.”
“Michael's light?” Uriel asked.
“Oh yeah. Michael has multiple gifts. One of them happens to be a light. I saw it earlier...”
Raguel looked at Chamuel interested, “I've heard about it. The blue ray of Michael. A sign of his leadership. His gifts are manifesting themselves on their own? Imagine how powerful he would be if he actually put effort into them.”
Chamuel laughed, “He'll be back. As far as effort. I don't need a third eye to tell me that guy is a handful. Anyways. I should get back to my apartment. Haven't fed my goldfish in a few days...you know---being dragged to hell and all.”
Chamuel walked away.
Uriel couldn't help but follow Chamuel. He looked back just to make sure that Raguel was busy doing something else and not paying them any attention. Uriel looked at Chamuel trying to figure out his train of thought before approaching Chamuel.
Chamuel was wearing his jacket at that moment. He had buttoned it up. It was at that moment that Uriel was reminded that the jacket actually belonged to Michael. He had seen Michael with it on. He remembered Michael only had a sweater earlier today. Michael must have given Chamuel the clothes off of his back.
There were proof after proof that Michael was a good person. He didn't want to be probably. He didn't boast about the great things he did like Gabriel. He didn't talk about his ethical high ground all the time like Raphael. Michael was hiding the fact that he was actually a good person.
“You ok bro---you look like you got something on your mind,” Chamuel stated.
Uriel looked at him. His eyes glanced at Chamuel was so much interest.
“Michael's acting weird.”
“I mean I'd be more surprised if Michael was acting normal,” Chamuel laughed.
Uriel gave a courtesy laugh like he usually did when Chamuel was attempting to be funny. He honestly did enjoy Chamuel's sense of humor since he met him a while back but sometimes Chamuel didn't know how to be serious. Truth was he was really trying to get to the bottom of something.
“He was opening up before and then he just shut down again.”
“Oh yeah. I told him about what I saw. You know. Michael's blue ray.”
“Why would that make him shut down?”
“The blue ray attracts people to him. I think I might have confused him a little bit. Oops. I kind of made it seem like it was something unattached to him. Something removed. You know. I told him that you were attracted to the blue light. I'm thinking he assumed that he was putting some kind of spell on you or something. I tried to explain that's now how it works but you walked in.”
Uriel was confused.
Chamuel couldn't deliver serious things like he delivered jokes. His words often came back muddled and confusing.
“I don't get it. What do you mean by attraction?”
“I mean the blue light is like a beacon. Nothing more. It is not unattached from him. Do you get it? How can I describe it. It's like a flag. There it goes. Michael's light is like a flag.”
“Back in the day they used to have a banner man. You know. He's run out and rally all the troops with a flag. The flag itself has no power. It's only what the flag represents that matters. People would fight for what the flag represented. People would die for what the flag represented. That's all that Michael's light is. It has no true power. It's Michael that has the power. The light is him and he is the light. It's a reflection of who Michael truly is. I say this all to say that if you are attracted to this blue ray that you means you are attracted to Michael.”
Uriel nodded. He let Chamuel walked away assuming that he had explained things so perfectly, Uriel was more confused more than ever. Maybe it was the words that Chamuel used. “Attraction” confused Uriel but somehow he embraced the confusion.
He had to be honest with himself.
He was attracted to Michael...in more ways than one.
I sat at my job watching the time go by. Things just didn't seem the same. I didn't know how to focus. The more I sat at this job the more I realized just how stupid it was for me to be here. I needed the money. That was true but I had people depending on me. Why though? Why should they depend on me? I didn't promise Rag or any of the others a goddam thing.
I didn't know why I found myself drafting up an email at my desk. I drafted the email all of a sudden.
I knew I had to do it and before I knew I was pressing send. I sent the email and I got up off my chair at that moment.
It felt like a weight was lifted off of me. Uri's words just kept rolling in my head. He kept telling me that I had other things to focus on. He kept telling me that he needed me. The rest of them needed me and I couldn't waste time at this job anymore.
I found on the ground floor before I knew it. I had taken the subway from Rag's office space over here. I figured I could just catch it back. The ground floor was dark. The parking lot deck was underground and led out into the street.
I had this feeling...I had this feeling that I was being watched.
“Where are you going?”
I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard the voice behind me. I turned to see Nina. The girl from my job.
“I'm getting out of here,” I stated, “I sent my letter of resignation. Today's my last day.”
“You weren't going to say anything.”
“Didn't have time to explain,” I replied.
“What's the rush?”
She was acting so weird. I remembered how weird she had been acting before. I also remembered hearing that these fallen angels were among us. The way she looked at me freaked me out. I found myself taking a few steps back.
My heart was racing.
“I should go.”
“What's the rush?” she asked again. Her voice low...and monotone.
The parking deck was dark...darker than usual.
“What's the rush...” her voice got deeper.
I realized at that moment that lights were cutting off. It started from towards the elevator. Nina was standing there. Her once simple looks became more and more complicated. It was almost like she was changing. It was almost like she was shedding that innocent look!
“What's the rush...”
This time the voice was demonic. This time I knew the voice was something that seemed to scratch at the back of her throat. It was almost a tearing voice as though someone was choking her and forcing her to speak at the same time. It sounded hoarse. It was broken. It was painful.
So...so fucking painful.
I didn't notice until I felt the liquid on my earlobe that I was actually in real physical pain. I brushed my finger against my earlobe at that moment.
“Holy shit,” I said.
Blood! It was fucking blood! I was bleeding out of my fucking ears!
All I could think about at that moment was panic. Desperation had come over me to spare my own life and I picked up running. I realized things were getting serious when I turned around and realized I was running as fast as I could.
I didn't know what came over me.
My feet were carrying me. It was late in the say and the parking deck was usually full of people but there wasn't a single person in sight!
My heart raced and I could almost feel something chasing me. I wasn't sure what it was. I didn't turn to look. I just kept running.
It felt like the deck kept getting darker and darker. I should have saw the light from outside by now. It was night time, sure but there should have been a streetlight. There should have been something to let me know this nightmare was ending.
I just kept feeling the darkness all around me.
And then I stopped.
I didn't stop because I wanted to. I stopped because I had to. I had no where to go!
Right in front of me were a pack of dogs. Not one...not two...
There were about 15 dogs. They were all rottweilers. They all seemed to be about 150 pounds. I had never seen such ferocious looking dogs in my lives. There was something crazed about them. They all stared at me...as though I was something to eat.
Drool dripped from their mouths.
The black dogs were like something out of a nightmare. At this point I felt as though I wasn't breathing at all. I was holding my breath as though thinking this would make them go away.
A growl surfaced from one of the black dogs. It's brown muzzle slowly parts unleashing a string of hideous drool. It's gums were black and the close fitting from the corner of the mouth was visible.
One at a time they barred teeth.
One at a time the strong necks began to elongate, well muscled to point towards me.
One began to stretch out the strongly developed legs towards me.
I knew I would not be able to outrun them.
As soon as I even thought about it they began to attack me.
I hadn't even gotten a few steps away before I could feel them on top of me. I hadn't even gotten a few steps away before I started to cry as their teeth sunk into me!
Pieces of flesh tore out of my legs.
And for the first time in my life I prayed to God knowing that today may have been the day that I died.
To read the next chapter go to www.crushedcrown.com