Staring at angels
Writing prompt response – in answer to a #PromptsAndCircumstance prompt by the awesome Bliss Morgan.
“the only way out is through us”
The angels looked impossibly perfect, their wings curled around their bare arms, their robes dropping seamlessly to the floor. One was green marble with silver eyes, the other black marble with gold eyes, watching the boy crouched on the floor.
“You cannot be here.” Their voices echoed around the tiny chamber, breathless and terrifying.
“But I am here.” The boy replied, his voice small. There was a smear of soot across one cheek, and his rags suggested he’d been wandering through the caves for hours or more.
“You cannot be here.” Their expressions didn’t appear to change, but he realised that they weren’t angry, they looked sad. He stood up slowly, shuffling across the dusty floor to peer at them closely.
They were stone, but they spoke. He touched one; it was cold and solid, like the marble tiles lining the bath houses, but it moved, sliding away from his touch. He drew his hand back hurriedly, wondering if he should apologise.
“You must leave.” Their voices were perfectly in sync, the sound of dry leaves being blown about, and he swallowed.
“I don’t know how.” He glanced behind him. “They left me here.” They’d done more than that – they’d dropped him down a hole and slammed the lid, laughing at his terror.
“They left you for us.” The angels agreed, their wings separating slightly. Beneath them, they each clasped a sword, point down. The boy shuffled backwards carefully, trying to move silently.
“I don’t know why they did that.” He said nervously. “Why did they do that?”
“You cannot be here.” They didn’t seem inclined to say anything else, and he dropped his head. He was thirsty and tired, and hopelessly lost.
“I don’t have a home to go to.” He muttered.
“Yes, you do.” They laughed, the sound of glass shattering. It wasn’t cheerful by any means, and the boy hitched a sob, trying to look brave.
“Where is it then?” He challenged, pulling his shoulders back. They mimicked him then, pulling their shoulders back. Their wings unfurled above them, grazing the ceiling, before settling behind them. They held the swords out, points to the floor, and tilted their heads slightly, away from each other.
“The way out.” They chorused. “The only way out… is through us.”
He stared at them, trying to match the vision in front of him with the words of the priests, the stories of angels leading lost followers to their tribes… but he had no tribe and no family. And these angels didn’t seem friendly. Maybe the priests made them sound nicer, so people would listen.
He turned away. The chamber was sealed; he’d fallen in by a steep channel from the catacombs above. There was no escape, even if they were telling the truth.
“What home do you mean?” He asked, his curiosity giving him courage. They didn’t answer. He cast another look around the chamber but if offered no solution. The dust was thick in here, and his thirst was getting the better of him.
After the rough way he’d been thrown down the hole, and the rumbling monster he’d run from a whole level up, he was almost beyond scared. And so thirsty…
He squared his bony shoulders and looked from one to the other.
“All right.” He nodded once, like a merchant closing a deal. “Through you.”
Still, he hesitated. He could hear his heartbeat in his ears, a fast yammering that threatened to give away his nerves. He took a step forward. The angels drew back. Another step, another sliding shuffle as they kept the same distance between them.
Scowling, he dashed towards them.
Their wings spread, quicker than he could see, and before he could utter so much as a startled squeak, they’d gripped an arm each, drawing him in and wrapped him in stony feathers.
There was a blur of movement, and the angels settled back to their positions, wings wrapped around their arms, shielding their swords. They rippled slightly and went still, returning to stone, and the room was silent.
So many waifs and strays to send home. They wouldn’t have to wait long before the next one.