You approach the high grounds around my homestead with stealthy finesse though you know I felt your aura soon as you breached the clear, moonlit vault. Your feet touch the pebbled ground with barely audible crunches; eagle-spread wings angling to partial folds. Then you close in on my turned back until you can see over my shoulder the lifeless stretch of Perdition Valley yonder.
“Where is that famed cheerfulness about you today?” you finally ask in a mocking guttural rasp as you survey the flaming remains of the low-lying settlement. Far afield, amber hues still pulse where raging infernos swept through days before.
“Have you come here to gloat?”
“Why be sour? Isn’t this what you wanted?”
Not even close. But you already know that.
“Run along now, Michael. I’m certain your Master would be extremely displeased with your vain talks when you should be running His errands.” You laugh—a relaxed rejoinder brimful of victorious joy.
“Speaking of errands, the Lord asks how well your crusade fares.”
I allow the plundered valley answer: a deathly silence.
“You’re afraid of the sons of Adam, Karldon-Rho,” you resume after the prolonged silence. “I’ve seen it in your eyes before and it’s more manifest now.” I look over my shoulder, my back still turned to you, my face masked behind spilled hair. “The men you seek lordship over have gone haywire and you’re afraid. Even in the holy months, they kill and pillage, winning tears and amassing misery, committing the vilest of transgressions on earth. And when fellow men became lesser conquests they turned on you and your brotherhood. With the unbidden might of black sorcery they breached your Realm and upon your ‘hallowed’ valley they marched, ripping your soldiers, wings after wings, demons after demons, laying waste to every form of life till your little dominion was rendered a tragic mess.” You bring your mouth behind my left ear, voice barely above a whisper: “It’s your second fall, Rho. You lose. Again.”
My wings. I feel them sag. And my shoulders rise and fall in defeated see-saws, eyes shut against the burn of threatening tears.
I turn round to find you halfway up the path you came. You look back one last time.
“Good luck fighting your new nemesis. Heaven awaits your damnation.” You smile once more, spin on a bent knee and take off with a strong blast. I fend off exploding pebbles with my left wing and watch your silhouetted form tailspin in the brilliant glow of the moon before you disappear into the black expanse, and hold your vanishing point for a while.
Indeed, the sons of Adam have fallen from the primordial light of their father and plunged into an abyss far darker than I realize. It is the most fearsome thing that their sinful woes can pile high to celestial heights without my stewardship, that it was never really me but their inherent evil. They’ve usurped my right and those of my demon brothers as Princes of the Damned—the measly “victory” we latched onto upon our first fall. I have no ranks in the Kingdom of Heaven and I’m no prince of Hell either. I look back, star-gazing at the apocalyptic carnage below, thinking back to the Eden Ejection.
“They’d have eaten every goddamn fruit on the tree and chopped its trunk to make fire anyway!” The words travel against the resounding silence and I find myself less humiliated by the last gasp bluster, more by the desolate echo of my defeat.
© 2015. Abdulqawiyu Muhammad