Joseph looked around the hotel room, checking to see if he left anything behind. Where’s my picture? Oh, right, Maria has it. He gave one last look, wishing he could just stay here, and headed for the door. The hallway was comfortably lit by rows of lights running across the top of the walls, all pointed towards a series of convex mirrors down the middle of the ceiling. A warm yellow light cascaded down onto the floor and walls. Not a soul was in the hallway besides Joseph.
Exit signs hung at both ends of the hall. He decided to turn right. Just a few meters brought him to a fire door. Looking around for an alarm and finding none, he pushed the bar and entered. Cement stairs poorly lit by flickering fluorescent bulbs greeted him. Perfect. He closed the door softly behind him and headed down. He began to whistle long low tunes, listening to the reverberations bounce off the walls and up and down the stairwells. A private sound chamber.
He reached the bottom in just a few moments, passing several exits along the way but not wanting to stop playing with the acoustics. The door swung open easily by the round silver nob. He walked into the hall and realized he’d gone too far. He was in some sort of sub-basement. All gray cement, lit only by work-lights, water ran down the corner wall to his right. He tried the door to the stairwell, but it had locked behind him. Of course it did. Joseph looked around again, but there was nothing helpful, or new, in the hallway.
Right again I suppose. Following the corridor down to the corner and around to the left he found more of the same; work-lights and grey cement, with the addition of 2 metal service carts outside the only doorway. Joseph approached the carts looking for leftovers. He was surprised to find knives and pliers and rubber gloves and some electric wires. Turning to the door for the first time, he did not know what to think. It appeared to be a plain steel door, just like the fire doors of the stairwell, set into the half meter deep alcove that framed the doorway. A white sign, barely 3 centimeters tall and 12 long read only, Do Not Enter, and nothing more.
Knowing full well he should walk away, Joseph turned the nob, opened the door, and entered. The room was entirely dark except for the person on the opposite wall. He couldn’t decide which was more bizarre; that the person actually glowed alternately white and red, that the person had wings, horns and a tail, or that they were strapped to the wall by some sort of electric devices plugged into the only outlet in the room.
The door slammed shut behind Joseph. The creature looked up at him. He seemed to recognize Joseph and his face brightened. The glow grew brighter white, “Please, can you help me?” It’s voice sounded like beautiful music played with a dull needle on an old vinyl album.
“Who-What are you?”
“I am called Gabriel.”
It’s head fell slightly, “I have been called that, among other things, although strictly speaking it is not accurate.”
“Not accurate? What does that mean?”
“I’d love to explain it all to you, but right now, I’d really love to get out of these shackles, please.”
Joseph began to pace back and forth across the small room, studying this creature, “You claim to be an angel, yet you have horns and a tail and glow red. Not to mention, you’re in shackles. No offense, but how does an Archangel end up in shackles?”
Gabriel hung from his bonds, barely able to hold himself upright any longer, he shook his head, “Alright. Listen I am Gabriel, Archangel and Messenger of God. Demons, servants of the Evil One have done this to me. They have matched the energy signature of the electro-magnets to the frequency of my soul. I cannot oppose it. Help me, or help the Evil One; you know what you must do, Joseph.”
“And the horns?”
“The more they torture me, the more I am filled with pain and suffering and anger, the darker I become.”
“Like a demon?”
“Yes, that is where the demons come from, those of my kind twisted by evil. Please, help me.”
“Some one is- Who is trying to make you into a demon?”
“I do not know. They have found a way to shield themselves from me. But they are definitely servants of the Evil One. Please, Joseph, they will return before long. I am completely helpless, will you not give me aid? ”
“Just unplug the device. Once it loses power, I will be able to free myself.”
Joseph hesitated, then walked over to the outlet and grabbed hold of the plug. It was the largest plug he had ever seen, ridges in the plastic for 6 prongs. Frequency of my soul? Damn dude, I was just trying to get shelter from the rain. He pulled, and it slid out easily. Sparks flew from the braces around Gabriel’s limbs and wings. He turned a deep auburn then burst forth from the wall in a shower of metal and stone and blinding white light. When Joseph’s eyes recovered, the most beautiful creature he had ever seen floated in the middle of the room.
Gabriel just hung in the air, unmoving, lending his glow to everything in the room. His eyes, deep cobalt set within the radiant ivory of his face, gazed about as if waking from a sleep on a long trip. Gabriel’s voice filled the room with music when he spoke, “ I thank you Joseph, you acted selflessly without any expectation of return. If ever you need anything, all you need to do is think of me, and I will come.””
“Right now, I’d just like to-” the door opened and three bald white men wearing black slacks, blue button down shirts, striped ties of red and white, and black guns in black shoulder harnesses, walked in the room. When they saw Gabriel free, they drew their weapons.
These were no ordinary guns, the man in the center held an odd mixture of Colt .45 and megaphone. When he squeezed the trigger, a high pitched squeal emanated, cracking the walls. The other 2 drew modified tazers, with nobs on top and clamps on the projectile. They circled to the flanks. Gabriel began to dim, dark bands of red flickered across his chest and wings. He twisted spasmodically in the air.
Joseph had gone unnoticed in the corner. He charged the center man, drawing his knife as he ran. A blindside to the back brought them both to the ground. The sonar blaster skidded across the floor. The man, well trained by someone, rolled out of the fall and came back at Joseph. On instinct, Joseph brought up his right hand, driving his knife into the attacker’s chest. They always look so surprised. Joseph pulled out the knife and let him fall.
Gabriel was now free again. The 2 men began to back away. He turned bright orange and they both burst into flames. They screamed for only a moment before they were consumed. 2 piles of ash on the floor and a warm sensation on the skin were all that remained of these men. Joseph looked down at his feet, where the bleeding carcass of his opponent lay.
“And I’ve killed again.”
“And I owe you my life again.”
Joseph looked at the being in front of him and the dead remains around the room, then back to Gabriel, “Seriously, what the fuck are you?”
“ I am a soul without a body, energy with a consciousness, the final stage of evolution.”
“How about I explain somewhere else, more guards are coming.” Light filled the room, and Joseph found himself floating inside the light. When normal reality returned he was standing in the middle of Creek Park under his favorite Apple tree with an angel at his side.