The words began to blend together in Billy’s mind. One recitation after another of the Lord’s Prayer flowed across his lips. Punctuation began to diminish, then fade altogether as one prayer flowed into another. Nearly an hour went by as he prayed. He found he was able to continue to repeat the prayer and still think about other things; his mind wandered. Time passed. He grew cold. The realization he was cold broke into his meditation. He stopped.
“I shouldn’t be cold,” he said to the empty room. The conversational tone felt alien in the room that had been silent for so long. Billy stood, and worked the ache out of his knees, stretching his legs as well. He knew he wasn’t any closer to entering the ether and thought he knew why. One final stretch and he resumed his kneeling position, taking up the Bible again.
This time he thought about Angela. He needed to help her but he wasn’t sure how. Julie Payne’s face sprang to mind and he knew how he could help Angela. He needed to stand with her against the new woman that had seemed to take an instant disliking to Angela. He wasn’t sure what Angela had done to deserve the attention, but it was quite clear Julie Payne did not like Angela Magdala.
Billy focused his mind on Angela’s face and began to recite the words of the prayer once again in very deliberate fashion. He focused on the meaning of each word and how each word might pertain to helping Angela. As he whispered the words, his fingers gently moved over the soft surface of the Bible he held.
He didn’t notice the calm settle over his mind, nor did he sense the warmth that slowly replaced the slight chill he’d grown accustomed to over the past hour and a half. He finished the most recent prayer, took a deep breath and felt as though someone were watching him.
Instead of physically turning his head as he’d done in the past, Billy imagined just his eyes drifting around to look behind him. The darkness that enveloped his vision behind his closed eyelids slowly turned grey bringing the room behind where he knelt into focus. Standing behind his body stood Theliel, the crackling thread of energy connecting her to Billy, but this time she stood, arms crossed with a stern expression etched on her face.
“Billy Ransom, you are in a lot of trouble, mister,” Theliel said, punctuating the words with sharp nods of her head.
“You weren’t upset with me the last time I did this,” Billy replied. He looked around and felt a surge of surreal emotion seeing his own kneeling body connected to his ethereal form by the crackling thread of energy.
“Last time you weren’t supposed to be somewhere else upholding your obligations,” she said. Theliel unfolded her arms and slid, effortlessly, across the floor of the room to stand just in front of him.
“They don’t need me,” he said.
“You don’t know that,” she replied.
“Yes I do. Julie’s here now. She’s better at everything, just ask her.” Billy didn’t wait for a response. He willed himself to rise as he had learned to do in the ether when they used the machines to go in. Just as before, he flew up through the ceiling and into the surrounding rocks as though he were encased by the stone above the complex. A brief moment of panic set in before he calmed himself and continued moving up at a more rapid pace. Finally, he rose up and out into the air over what appeared to be a secluded, rocky outcropping covered in snow. The surrounding landscape gave no clue of where he was, but he did see a large landing strip with buildings and fences surrounding everything a short distance away. Theliel shot out of the rock close behind him.
“You hold still,” she chided as she pursued him.
“I’m not running away from you. I just want to see if this works the same as when I’m wearing the shroud,” he said, but he stopped his ascent and let her catch up. She seemed angry and ready to chastise him further. He decided to try and deflect some of her anger. “I missed you and wanted to see you again. That’s why I didn’t go to the briefing.”
“You didn’t go to the briefing because you think Colonel Peter’s is going to be angry and punish you. He is and he should.”
Billy ignored her and looked around. Maybe he could figure out where they were if he could see more of the ground. Slowly he began to drift toward the airstrip and fenced in complex. Theliel drifted alongside him.
“Besides, just wanting to see me is a selfish reason. That wouldn’t have gotten you here. You had something else in mind. What was it?”
Billy stopped drifting and rotated to face Theliel. She floated just out of arms reach before him. Her golden blonde hair fell around her shoulders in perfect form though his mind insisted it ought to be blowing in some imagined breeze at this altitude. “I wanted to help Angela.”
Speaking her name brought the image of Angela’s face to Billy’s mind. Instantly, the world shifted and he stood in the pit next to Angela’s couch, where Seth was helping her get situated. Mihr stood at the head of the couch and smiled but said nothing. She’d already secured the shroud over her head and was just about ready to make the jump into the ether. Julie Payne was similarly situated across the room in the position Brandt usually used when he’d been leading the team.
“So, that works this way too, huh?” Billy asked. He didn’t expect an answer. The answer was obvious. Theliel slid up next to him and nodded to Mihr, who returned the silent greeting. Mihr moved around the couch to stand before Billy.
“I see you’ve entered a new world, young man,” Mihr said. Billy didn’t know what to say, he just looked at Theliel then back to Mihr.
“I think he has taken the first step, yes,” Theliel said.
“It’s a little out of the usual order, but manageable,” Mihr replied.
“What’s out of order?” Billy asked.
“Usually a man or woman of valor figures out how to enter the spiritual realm, then discovers how to move around, who we are, who the adversary is, and about the war,” Mihr said, punctuating each item as he explained.
“He hasn’t made the full connection yet about the war,” Theliel cautioned.
“Yes he has, just not consciously, I think.”
“You mean those little stony guys Angela keeps calling demons?” Billy added.
Just then Angela finished settling in and Seth engaged the system. All motion on the couch ceased. Seth checked a monitor and gave a thumbs up to the window from Heaven overlooking the Pit.
“I wonder where she’s going, ” Billy said. Immediately, the world blurred out, streaking by as though intense, rapid motion occurred with no sense of movement at all.
Billy stood with Angela and Julie in what appeared to be a cross between a private hospital room and someone’s bedroom. An elderly woman lay in a hospital bed watching television. An empty overstuffed wing-back chair was positioned on the same side of the bed as the television. A small table had been placed next to the chair as well.
“Glad you could join us Cherry,” Julie said, not hiding her dislike for Billy. A moment later she snapped around to face him. “What do you mean he isn’t in the Pit?”
“Yes Archangel, I can see him. Billy Ransom, you are in a lot of trouble, mister.” Angela spat, placing her clenched fists on her hips.
“That’s exactly what I told him,” Theliel said, crossing her arms. Mihr nodded his head in agreement. Billy was very glad he wasn’t connected to the Guardian communications net at that exact moment.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. To catch up on the first 45 issues you can either read them for free on the web site or purchase the compilation, Guardians of the Herald Issues 1-45: Angels and Demons for the Kindle at http:/
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