Two boys walked along a creek. Two boys; on the outside, both painfully average. There was nothing special, nothing unique. One boy was Michael- tall, his hair black and messy. The other, Peter, was a bit shorter, somewhat younger, his hair brown and short. He wore a long sleeved shirt to brace himself against the chill of the springtime air that oozed and floated around him like an ocean current. Michael had a white hooded sweatshirt hanging loosely from his form. Nothing special at all. They stopped at the water’s edge and faced each other. They were silent at first, and then Peter spoke a simple phrase.
“It’s coming up.”
“Tell me- what here doesn’t belong?” Michael put his hand against the brick wall and leaned in towards the under-classmen Peter. He brought his face close to the younger boy’s.
“You’re too close.” Peter casually placed a dingy white cigarette in his mouth and lowered his face to meet a silver lighter he held carefully in his hand. The flame went up for only a second, a short-lived geyser of autumn oranges and yellows, before it vanished as quickly as it had arrived to do its job.
Michael looked amused, his eyebrows rising up and down a few times. “What was that, now?”
“You’re in my bubble.” Peter inhaled deeply and held in the smoke. For a moment he felt as though he were holding his breath for the sole purpose of being underwater, and Michael was a desperately starving shark circling around him, waiting to pounce. Peter couldn’t defend himself. All he could do was stare in a sick satisfactory manor with the secret wish that he might die.
In the woods near the river a heavy air made itself present. Peter felt the pressure building up; a negative energy so threating that a lion would run from it was moving towards the boys, an ocean of force that brought them deeper and deeper into the depths of something horrific.
“It’s coming up.”
“Keep looking at me, sport.” Michael kept his hands in his pockets, acting as natural as he could. It was working.
“It’s coming up.” Peter started buckling under the force of the pressure.
“I heard you the first time.”
“Just making sure you’re ready.” Peter began shaking, slowly at first. The pressure started building. The shaking got worse.
Peter exhaled the plumage of smoke he was keeping hostage in his body. The cloud choked out the air and any pleasantries that may have existed.
“You shouldn’t smoke at your age. What are you, like twelve?” Michael inhaled the fumes, the smoke vanishing into his nasal cavities. He looked un-phased, and just smiled.
“Fifteen. And if you don’t like it go away.” He took a shorter drag and exhaled right in Michael’s face. Michael didn’t flinch.
“Answer my question and I will.” Michael leaned a little closer, tilted his head. His smile wouldn’t go away. Tell me what here doesn’t belong.”
Peter paused with the cigarette a millimeter from his lips. “It’s you.”
A grizzly blob shot out from the woods with four eyes each larger than either boy, green with envy- six clawed arms sprouted from each side and made their way to Michael. He turned around, and unveiled his true form- his skin melted away to reveal a fiery creature; An Archangel. A mask replaced his face; thin elegant wings erupted from his back.
St. Michael Held a sword by his side and plunged it through the demon’s beastly hand, a hideous shriek from it reverberating in the air. The vibrations shook Peter to the bone. The demon flailed his limbs, black ooze raining down over Peter, and one of the demon’s limbs met Peter’s body at full force, knocking him into the river. The creature of ill-intent faded away.
“Peter, where is it?” St. Michael hung in the air, fire lapping around his form. He could still feel the presence of the demon, but his vision had failed him. Anyone’s vision would have at that point- after all, one can’t see something that’s not there. But Peter could. He saw things that didn’t belong.
Peter tried standing up but splashed back into the water instead. He tried again, and was a little more successful, being able to keep himself up for more than a few seconds this time. He looked around keeping a watchful gaze. At first there was nothing- Then he saw it, a trail of black tar, acid breath being exhaled, a faint outline of a large mass. Peter pointed his finger, his hand shaking so violently St. Michael almost couldn’t tell where Peter was pointing. Michael moved like wildfire, sparodic, random, unpredictable- he slashed his sword in the general area Peter pointed to, his blade slicing through the air itself until it stopped because it hit a target. The beast reared back, full of rage and emptiness (two things a demon is always filled with), and became visible again. It recognized Peter as a threat to its safety as much as St. Michael now; he was no longer a simple human meal to feast on. At great speeds it raced to Peter and suddenly stopped in front of him, its blobby face inches from Peter’s shaking body, shaking so much that it could have fallen apart right then. The monster opened a cavern in its black as coal face for a make-shift mouth, shadows oozing down over the cavern and making a satanic smile a harlequin would be proud of. It opened up into nothingness and eternal gloomies. Peter fell back into the water.
St. Michael was a wildfire, though, blessed with speed unmatched. He stood in front of his companion now, finger wagging in front of the beast’s face. In surprise the demon tried backing up, only to start tripping on its own arms. St. Michael brought his arm back, his flames producing a lance with which he thrust forward. It pierced the demon’s face. There was a brief pause, and like a balloon it deflated, ceasing to exist.
“I’ve never met an angel before. I’ve met a lot of other things, yeah, but never one of you guys… I was starting to wonder if only the bad existed.” Peter stood on of a partially constructed building; below him the construction site lay practically undisturbed underneath the low lit glow of the setting, melted gummy-bear sun. St. Michael slowly descended, his wispy wings growing backwards into his back and his mask cracking and falling off. “Are you here to defend the Earth or something?”
“We take turns exterminating demons. Me and the other angels, I mean.” Peter backed up a few feet. Michael touched down on the edge of the building where the other once stood. Michael looked at Peter, and Peter tried to do the same to Michael but the sun was directly behind the angel.
“Yeah? You save people in distress, like me? Am I your damsel?” Peter shielded his eyes. He wasn’t sure if he was shielding them from the light orb plastered in the burning sky or Michael, who still seemed to have his own glow despite no longer being in his holy form. “Don’t you guys run out of demons after a while?”
“It’s the fault of humans, you know.” Michael’s comment was off-handed, and Peter frowned at this response. He looked disappointed in the angel. Michael caught the look and started correcting himself. “Woah, I‘m not saying the human race as a whole is evil and they’re the reason for blah blah blah doom and destruction. There are evil humans, but there are plenty of good ones too. What I’m saying is it’s all accidental, it’s based solely on rumors and fear. When people go around spreading urban legends, the fear builds and feeds the seed of evil and then it takes shape. It’s-”
Peter interrupted. “Endless. It’s endless, I get it. So why’d you corner me earlier?”
“Because you can see the demons.”
“Thanks? I kinda know that already. I’m pretty sure you can too.”
Michael shook his head. “I can’t always see them. They can hide themselves, and while I’m here I’m bound by certain laws. Some of those laws limit my power and what I can see of the evil. You’re special. You have the tint in your eyes; can see the evil even when it tries to hide itself.”
“Bound by certain laws? That’s dumb. How are you supposed to do your job then?” Peter gradually lowered his arm to his side and settled for squinting really hard.
“The world won’t be ready for that much celestial power until the end of days, and even then the gift of sight doesn’t belong to me.” The sun was almost gone now, leaving behind a black canvas slowly being filled with the glowing freckles of the night sky. “We don’t need that much power to dispel this low level fear anyway.”
“You can make my job easier.” Michael boldly inched forward, following Peter’s footsteps. He placed a falsely human hand on Peter’s shoulder and patted it a few times before retreating.
Peter shoved his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “I’ll do it.”
Michael raised his eyebrows. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. I’ll try my hardest to do some good for this world.” The seer gave a soft smile and looked at the spots in the sky. He let out his breath.
“Then as an angel I promise to stand by you and protect you, as long as you’re alive.” Michael said whimsically. Peter rotated his head slowly back at Michael, who was holding out his hand to seal the pact they made underneath the waning moon. They were bare; they both knew who the other was and had nothing to hide. Peter took the angel’s hand.
“Are you alright?” Michael asked as he reached out his now human arm to help up Peter from the water. To Peter the knowledge that the skin touching his was fake, not all there like a pieced together memory, frightened him to a degree. He always wondered what would happen if he were to touch the real St. Michael; would he burn like an effigy of sin? Michael squinted his eyes and looked at the side of Peter’s head, pointing out the blood dripping down slowly. “I’m surprised you’re not crying.”
“I don’t cry.” Peter flicked off the water from his arms as best he could and brought out a moist cigarette, the side of which had BAD STANDARD scrawled on it sloppily.
A little amused, Michael replied “Can’t or won’t?”
Peter lit up his cigarette and took a long drag, breathing in the toxins like a life force. The tip looked like a dying firefly, the smoke its last desperate dying message of love unknown. He continued. “You’ve seen worse than I have. After a while, there just aren’t any more tears left.”
“I’ve seen humans kill for gifts like yours.” The angel stared up at the newspaper sky. He felt a longing to be up above, and he started to lose himself in thought forgetting just for a moment that Peter was there.
“I wouldn’t give it to them.” The response caused Michael to draw his attention back to Peter, who kept on killing himself slowly with his bad habit. Michael opened his mouth in surprise trying to think of a response.
“Nobody else needs to go through the experience of seeing what I see. I’ll accept this gift graciously if it means saving somebody else from having to accept it.” Peter shrugged and looked over at Michael. “Were you stargazing? I can’t believe how quick you get over these attacks. Ah frick, I’m cold! Can we leave now?”
Michael loosened up and smiled at Peter. “Let’s jet.”
“I don’t understand why you can’t just turn into an angel again and use your flames to dry me off.” Peter rubbed his arms for warmth and sneezed. He was easily prone sickness. Michael chuckled.
“I think that’d be abuse of power. Next you’ll want to use me to roast marshmallows.” Michael punched Peter’s shoulder.
“Whatever. Jerk.” Peter punched him back and the two walked back along the riverbank steadily, making small talk, sharing words back and forth, conversing and discussing. And so the night ended, just another average evening for two unique individuals who simply wanted to do good in the world.