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Angels

Angel Snow

by Elena Sichrovsky

The first angel on the tree was a gift, albeit an accidental one. Part of the choir ascending after the birth of God’s Son, she was but one of many when her wings happened to be struck by the crown of lightning that descended to rapture the Heavenly hosts.  Falling between the eaves of sky and down to the earth, she landed on the tip of an evergreen and her back was stabbed through by the point of the branch.  From her splintered spine blood trickled down, white like snow, every droplet frozen in the unforgiving winter and whispering away in a flutter, delicate flecks dusting the pine needles and spreading to the uneven ground below.

The last vestige of her dying aurora illuminated the tree, haloing it in a glow that drew the worship of men, women, and children everywhere. They gathered round that day to bow before the pierced corpse and offer their worship to a God who had imparted the gift of one of His own, no doubt to bestow blessing on their coming year.

From that day forth, to honor the reverence of His followers, God deigned for such a sacrifice to be sent down to the people of that hallowed ground every Christmas. But so that Heaven’s own would not be taken for granted, He passed on instructions to the priest of the village, rules that must be adhered to in order to earn the yearly angel.

Each year, in the last month, twelve angels will be sent down, children of Heaven who hide among the forest for the children of men to hunt them down. Twelve descend, but only eleven will return to their Father. One child is destined to be caught and impaled upon the tree. It is an annual game of disguise and hunt, and only the human skilled enough to detect the unearthly beings will be worthy of obtaining the celestial prize.

The blade used to kill the child of Heaven must be purified, made of gold refined and dipped in sacred water to slice through the unearthly skin of the child’s throat. The angel must be embalmed in robes of linen, diamonds crystalizing her godly light. Her eyelids must not be closed, for her sightless gaze should remain open to face the glory of Christmas Eve. On that holiest of days, when she is hoisted on the shoulders of the strong and carried to her final resting place, all will behold her and the purity therein.

She will be lifted up to the iron spike which has been fixed atop the tree. Over the years the brittle black metal has become crusted white from centuries of blood spilled, of angel’s bone and marrow split by the sharp needle. When her body is speared to the crown of the evergreen she will stand tall, her head bound by gold ribbon to gaze up at the light and framed by her lifeless wings, their frozen feathers flapping in the winter cold.

And all will gather by the light of candle flame to watch her bleed out. Her blood, righteous from God’s touch and unspoiled in the innocence of her youth, will flow forth, as snowflakes that waft through the branches, dusting the wide-eyed children dancing around the tree in angel snow.

~

Bio

Elena Sichrovsky is an Austrian citizen currently living in Shanghai, China. She’s a student there at the Shanghai University of Engineering Science and also a member of The Shanghai Writing Workshop. Her short stories and poetry seek to portray the beautiful and terrifying, and she is currently working on finishing her first novel.

Falling Angels

by Adam Breckenridge

Glorious in flame the angels fell, tails stretching heavenwards, the thudding shockwaves of their impacts shattering all within distance of their cataclysmic song. But none ran from the angelic comets, even standing their place as the maudlin blue light of an angel’s body streaked their way towards the ground they stood. This was hallowed death, godly combustion, and all who died in collision with the angels became worshipped as angels themselves, their ashes revered by the wretched survivors.

Churches formed in the hollows of the craters, shrines built to the few charred remains of angel and martyr they plucked from the fallow earth. In such desperate times as these, martyr’s ashes and angel’s dust were as fine a ground for faith as anything one could hope for. That wars broke out between rival craters is no cause for shock, nor is it cause for anger. What else do these wretched souls, who have at times been starved into devouring loved ones, have to live for but death? Let them choose death on their own terms. For many of them, dying in a meaningless battle is the closest meaning will ever come to entering their lives. They raise their swords to the fiery affirmation of the tumbling angels overhead, who cast their deathly light on the battlefield, and give thanks for what little snatches of glory they’ve been granted as they rush to die upon each other’s swords.

And ever and ever the angels continue to fall, their dying light illuminating the earth in place of the sun, bombarding all who watch them with their blackening rays.

~

Bio

Adam Breckenridge is an Overseas Traveling Faculty member of the University of Maryland University College, where he teaches writing, film and literature classes to US soldiers stationed overseas.  He is currently based in Tokyo.  His recent fiction has appeared in Vision Magazine, New Reader Magazine and The Final Summons anthology from NESW Press.