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Of Heaven and Despair

A short narrative story written by Justin Day

The bright red blood pooled around Chief SlyElk. The chiefís daughter, Ravenhair, watched the killer. She was frozen to the spot, unable to move. It was not fear that rooted her down, it was something deeper. An instinct of survival told her that if she moved, he would kill her. The massive muscle of the killer rippled, making the tribal tattoos that covered his body seem like a horde of snakes feeding upon his skin.

            The killer, HellReaver, had finished his job. The vile chief had been punished for his crimes against humanity. HellReaver had no idea why he was still here. Something about the woman compelled him to remain in the tent with her. She had gone into shock at the sight of her chiefís death. She didnít seem afraid, however. Her soul was so pure that he could feel it radiating heavenly goodness all about her. The only time he had felt a pureness like that was when his creator, the anti-archangel Gabriel had introduced him to the archangel Michael. Although he did not deal with good people, HellReaver could not leave her there. He reasoned to himself that if he left her there her tribe would think that she had murdered the chief. He slowly lifted his arm, holding his hand out to her.

            Ravenhair hesitated, watching the shadows fold around the man. Something stirred in her heart, causing her to reach out and take his hand. He had saved her life, possibly even her soul. SlyElk had been trying to rape her. She had said no, tears streaming down her face, but he hadnít listened. This demon man had appeared out of a circle of white-hot flames and ended the chiefís reign of treachery and deceit, and his life. As she accepted the demon manís hand, the tent and the rest of the world rippled, then faded out. It was replaced by towering pine trees and softly rushing water. The dirt floor and the deerskin wall was replaced with plush grass and majestic, white-capped mountains.

            HellReaver took the woman to his home in the Appalachian Mountains. He knew that she would appreciate the naturally beautiful surroundings, just as he appreciated her beauty. He gazed at the snow-topped mountains admiringly. He would let her stay here, live with him. As he turned back to her, he was surprised with a deep, fervent kiss. He returned the kiss just as passionately and they lay down in the grass together. Their hand interlaced and their limbs intertwined. His hands ran up her spine as her raven-black hair mingled with his dark brown hair. They both knew in that moment of love and ecstasy that they were meant to be.

 

As the years drifted by, one by one, each day brought new joy for HellReaver and Ravenhair. Feelings that HellReaver had not even known had existed were awakened by the stirrings of love in his heart. Each day he went to work, punishing the wicked men of the world by taking their lives. He regretted leaving her each day, fearing that she would leave him, yet always knowing that she wouldnít.

            One day, she made him aware that she would soon bear his offspring. He knew he couldnít abandon his responsibility to punish the evil in the world because it was his job as appointed to him by his father, Gabriel. Instead, he prayed that he could be there when their child was born. The days dragged out, yet Ravenhair never grew any less beautiful and her belly did not swell as a normal womanís would. But then again, Ravenhair wasnít a normal woman.

            Frederick Arkiston, a much-praised high-school teacher, prepared to hunt his next victim in his latest night life entertainment. He would let the pretty girl in his cage out into the woods. Hunting and tracking her down would be the funnest part in his little game. The he would strangle her while making the sweet love to her that he knew she wanted. She deserved what he would do to her. The little wench always taunted him in his class with her tight-fitting clothes and her bulging breasts. Fred heard a sound behind him and whirled around, only to find nothing more than a raven, sitting on the inside of the windowsill. He hesitated, then wondered why a raven was indoors. He was never granted another thought because a hand attached to a tattooed arm plunged through his back and out his chest, spraying blood globlets everywhere. Fredís arteries spurted blood all over HellReaver. Another fire had been extinguished.

            HellReaver used his gift to bend the shadows and space to return to his home where his love awaited him. He stepped from the shadows to the entrance of the cavern that made up his and Ravenhairís home. He walked down the nature-made steps, expecting her to warmly greet him in the first cave. Instead he found her lying on the ground, in a puddle of her own blood.

            He fell to his knees and held his head. He couldnít comprehend the site before him. His brain refused to believe that she was dead. His raging power expanded inside of him, then exploded outward. It destroyed everything except for her body. Outside, the trees within a thirteen-mile radius burst into flames at the touch of his power. HellReaver stared at his only love and dimly heard someone screaming, and it was him.

            After a while he passed out. When he awoke, he examined the scene to try to find out what had happened. A small pile of blood stained the dress between her legs, which meant that Ravenhair had had their child. He found three stark-white feathers near the body. As soon as he touched them, images of an angel flooded his mind. The angel came in the cave and laid a hand on her belly, causing her to go into labor. She had her child, a boy, and the angel placed his hands on her head. Inside of her, her organs imploded, leaving her a bloody heap. Then the angel took the child and left. The images in HellReaverís mind stopped, leaving him distraught and shaken. He understood now. The Lord Above had sent his angels down to punish Gabrielís servant for consorting with one of his purest creatures. They had taken the child away from him to make him suffer. In all likelihood, they would raise the boy to hate his father. He knelt over his loveís body and silently wept for her, the child, and himself. He never heard the fallen angel, his father Gabriel, enter his home.

            Throughout the next two years, Gabriel helped his son overcome his tragic and devastating losses. He counseled HellReaver to help him continue on with his work and playing games with him to keep his mind occupied. He took care of his first creation and tried to persuade HellReaver to leave the desolate dwelling. No matter how hard he tried however, he could not convince or force HellReaver to leave the blasted ruins of his life with Ravenhair. Every night, he slept next to her grave, as if she was till with him. Every night, he fell asleep, watching the stars above, where HellReaverís son had been taken. And every night, HellReaver shed a single bloody tear for his love and his son.

            Time passed on and every day HellReaver grew more and more resentful towards the angels of the Lord. With every tear he shed, he lost a part of his soul and hated the angels and Him even more. One day, he felt that same pureness that he had felt from Ravenhair. He pinpointed it and started to bend the space around him. Gabriel told him that it wasnít Ravenhair, to stay or disaster would ensue. HellReaver did not hear his father, however, and leapt through the hole in space to the location of the pureness. He didnít find his love, however. What he found wasnít even human. It was an angel of God.

            Anger immediately lashed out at the angel, exploding him instantly. Bits of his body and blood rained down on HellReaver, and he smiled. The act of revenge felt so good that it overflowed onto his other emotions, quelling the feeling that he had done something horribly wrong. He found another angel and killed her by ripping her apart with his bare hands. With each angel he killed, he reveled in the destruction of those that had taken his love from him. He destroyed countless angels, in different ways, before Gabrielís call broke through to his mind. He answered the call and went back to his home.

            Gabriel, HellReaverís creator, was waiting for him. The sight of his father triggered his mind into releasing the suppressed feeling of wrongdoing. The feeling overwhelmed him, bringing him to his knees. He clutched at the ground, disbelieving that he had killed so many angels and that he had enjoyed each death. He knew that he would now have to atone for his crimes. He did not fear his punishment. Instead he welcomed it because it would reunite him with Ravenhair.

            Gabriel knew that he had also done something wrong. He never should have created the man before him. He had given him power equal to his own. HellReaver had enough power that he could destroy every angel at once, and indeed even challenge God himself.

            ďCome son, It is time to meet your love once again,Ē he said sadly. He led HellReaver down to the only thing that could destroy him aside from Godís wrath: Hellfire. As the fallen angelís son stepped into the fire and passed out of existence, a single, lone tear of blood slid down Gabrielís cheek. He turned away and prepared to apologize for the horrible deaths of the angels to his own creator, God.

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