Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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21-Aug-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: In Question

Mission: –

The tall, stern-looking angel never took his golden eyes off of me.

Only high-ranking angels had gold eyes. d never seen one before.

Zedekiah walked next to me. His solid, ornery presence should have been comforting, but it only made me more jittery.

First the controllers, and now this?

I wracked my brain.

Was this still about the sword?

I opened my mouth to ask what was going on, but Zedekiah elbowed me in the ribs and shook his head.

The old guy had elbows of steel. I rubbed my side and glowered.

We followed Golden Eyes through a maze of tunnels, our feet leaving prints in the dust on the stone floors. I only seen architecture like this in old brochures. The place probably knew things I’d be lucky to comprehend.

The worst part was that every few feet the angel would flick his golden eyes to me, before returning to the way ahead.

Did he think I was going to explode? Or run? I hadn’t made it past my trial period. I wasn’t even a guardian angel yet.

My insides turned cold.

Is that what this was about? Had I failed? Miserably? Had the tight rope walker been a test? One that I had messed up so bad that I was about to…what? Get my temporary wings taken away?

I looked around, hoping to find someone else there, but we were very alone.

Finally we stopped outside a large carved door that still gleamed white through the dust. Golden Eyes put his hand on it. A light flashed, and the door creaked open.

Golden Eyes entered first. I looked at Zedekiah, who motioned for me to follow. The stern expression on his face told me to do it or face his wrath. I complied.

Inside, the room was round. Terraces led down to a wide floor with a shining circle in the middle. I could see the edge of the runes where the light came out.

I swallowed.

Now I knew where I was.

The class hadn’t been required, but I loved history, so I’d rammed it between Laws for Guardian Angels and We Never Use Deadly Force.

I looked at Zedekiah. All of the color had drained from his face, and he stared at the circle.

Sometimes I hated being right.

This was a Testimony Room.

Of course I knew they had to exist still, but I hadn’t ever thought I would see one, let alone be inside of one.

Golden Eyes, who had moved to the lowest level, looked at me. “You know what this is?”

I nodded, not trusting my voice.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

I shook my head.

Golden Eyes motioned to Zedekiah, who put a hand on my back and propelled me forward. “Come on, kid.”

Getting closer didn’t feel like a good idea, but I couldn’t resist Zedekiah’s firm command. I also couldn’t take my eyes off the circle of light.

When we got to the bottom of the stairs, Zedekiah cleared his throat. “Zeek, do you know what an archangel is?”

“Yes.”

“What are their powers?”

My mind fought to dredge up the information. I’d never expected to need it. “Uh, they have all of the powers of the other guilds. Guardian angels, Crisis of Faith angels, Comfort angels.” I knew I was forgetting some, so I added, “all of them.”

“Good.” Zedekiah turned me to face him, then put his hands on my shoulders. “Do you realize that you’ve demonstrated at least three of these powers?”

“I have?”

Golden Eyes snorted.

Zedekiah shot him the stink eye before continuing. “You called a holy cry from the heavens. You detected and removed a curse. You just helped a woman through a crisis of faith. You can speak with mortals and they can hear you. Some have seen you.”

The words poured out of my mouth before I could stop them. “I didn’t mean to do any of those things. I—”

Zedekiah held up his hand. “I know, kid. We both know.” He shot Golden Eyes another stern look. “If you recall your history, archangels train for millennia before they come into their powers.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“But once in a while, someone comes along who’s a natural.”

“A natural archangel?”

Zedekiah nodded. “We think you’re one of them.”

“That can’t be true.”

“It is.”

I glanced at the circle again, and fear washed through me. “Why are we here?”

Golden Eyes stepped toward me. “The problem with most naturals is that they go bad.”

“Bad?” The cold returned to my limbs.

“Yeah, kid.” Zedekiah looked hard at me. “The last four have almost torn heaven apart.”

My mind raced to wrap itself around that revelation. “But—but I don’t want to destroy anything.”

“They never do,” Golden Eyes said.

“Look, kid, he’s right. If anyone finds out that you’re a natural, they’ll kill you.”

“Kill me?” I took a step back. My heels hit the edge of the stairs that led to the door.

“Unless you can pass the Testimony,” Golden Eyes said.

My eyes darted back to the circle. History said that only one of ten angels to step in ever came out, and of those, half were insane.

Which is why they were forbidden.

A shudder ran through the room. Dust fell from the ceiling.

Zedekiah swore. “That’s the controllers coming for you. Your only chance is to survive the circle.” He took me by the elbow. “I’ve seen you work. I think you’re good, but we have to know.”

The room lurched again.

I knew what the controllers would do to me. Could the circle be worse?

A yell came from the other side of the door.

Golden Eyes glared at me. “Better hurry.”

Zedekiah gave me a nod.

Before I lost my nerve, I walked forward. I closed my eyes as I stepped into the circle and the light engulfed me.

***

Read the conclusion of Zeek’s story here!

Did you miss the beginning of Zeek’s story? Click HERE to start from the top!


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14-Aug-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: Rookie-ish

Mission: 13

I stayed in the conference room as the two confused lawyers left. “Zedekiah?” I asked for the tenth time.

Once again, he didn’t reply.

Zedekiah was a stickler for the rules. It wasn’t like him to leave me without a controller. Or a way back.

I glanced down at my wristband. The light was off. My job here was done, although I still had no idea how I’d gotten through to the couple.

Since Zedekiah could find me wherever I went, I decided to wander out into the hall. The hustle and bustle of the law office surrounded me, but I ignored it as I walked through it. Information about each person came into my mind. The woman ahead of me was nervous about getting a promotion. The receptionist was on the phone with her boyfriend, who was cheating on her. Most of the people in the board meeting were thinking about something besides the slides from the projector.

A normal day in the mortal world.

Then I felt the tug. I glanced down at my wristband, expecting to see the green or yellow light, but it was still off.

The only times I’d felt the tug before this was when I’d been looking for the person I needed to be guarding.

The gentle pulling turned into a yank, and I allowed it to draw me through the ceiling to the next floor. And then the next.

I frowned as I exited the building and ended up on the roof. This had better not be about that idiot tightrope walker again.

Instead of him and his posse, I found a lone woman sitting on a camping chair, smoking a cigarette and staring out over the city.

My wristband was still dark, but her tug was like a giant magnet to me.

Not knowing what else to do, I walked to her and stopped. She wore a business suit with impressive heels. If not for the tremor in her hand holding the cigarette, I would have pegged her as a confident person who didn’t let anything get in her way.

All humans had a light around them. An aura. Mostly I ignored them, but hers flickered, like it a bulb about to lose power. A single tear ran down her cheek.

Her name came to my mind, then details about her life. Libby Jones. Lawyer. Married with three children.

No. Widowed.

Recently.

So recently that the scars of her pain lanced through her aura like infected blood vessels.

I’d lost a child in my life. I understood something about grief. I sat on the edge of the roof and said, “I’m sorry.”

She blinked. More tears fell. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

I froze. Had she heard me? Or was she just talking to herself?

“How could he let this happen?” Libby asked.

“Who?” I asked.

“God.” The word dripped in anger.

That could have been in reply to my question, or just an expression of frustration. Either way, there was no easy answer. “He still loves you,” I said.

She snorted.

I didn’t want to feed her all of the lines that people had fed me when my daughter had died. Instead I said, “Tell me about him.”

I honestly didn’t think she could hear me, but that I was mirroring the thoughts in her mind. That is until she sniffed and said, “He was the best man I’d ever met. The only man I’ve ever loved. The father of my children. My soulmate.”

I opened my mouth to tell her he wasn’t gone forever, but closed my lips before it came out. She knew. I could tell she was religious.

I blinked.

This wasn’t a guardian angel mission, this was a crisis of faith. I looked around, expecting to see one of the members of that guild coming, but there was no one in sight.

“I asked him not to go on the trip,” she said.

Suddenly the argument before he’d left filled my mind. She’d known something wasn’t right, but he wanted to spend time with his friends before her job kept them both at home for the rest of the year.

“Why didn’t he listen?” Libby let out a sob.

I reached out, but stopped before I touched her, remembering Zedekiah’s warnings. “It wasn’t because he didn’t love you,” I said.

“I know.” She nodded, and cried harder.

“It’s okay to be angry,” I said. No one had told me that, and I’d felt almost as guilty about the anger as I had about my daughter’s death. “Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve.”

“People say I’ll get over it.” Her eyes stared past me, out onto the city.

“Maybe. Maybe not. It will get smaller,” I assured her. “Eventually it won’t consume you as it does now, but it won’t simply go away.”

“Even with God’s help?”

“He can make it easier, but not until you’re ready to let him.” It had taken me years to get to that point.

Libby nodded. “I know.”

“I know you do.”

Her aura stopped flickering, and she wiped her tears. “I can’t believe I’m up here talking to myself.”

I smiled. The grief would come for her again. Hopefully she would remember this small moment of relief.

“Zeek?”

I jumped at Zedekiah’s voice in my ear. “I’m here.” I stood and moved away from Libby.

“Okay, kid, I’m bringing you back, but not to the transport station. Don’t freak out. Got it?”

“I’m freaking out.” I was only half joking.

“Hold on.”

I held my breath—even though I didn’t have to breathe—and closed my eyes.

A moment later I opened them and found myself in an unfamiliar room that looked to be a relic from another time.

Zedekiah stood nearby, along with a tall, stern-looking angel I didn’t recognize.

“This is him?” the newcomer asked.

“Yup.”

I looked between them.

Zedekiah waved me toward them. “Come on, kid, we need to talk.”

***

Did you miss the beginning of Zeek’s story? Click HERE to start from the top!

Check out Zeek’s next mission here!


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7-Aug-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: Rookie

Mission: 12

“What do you mean we’ve got big problems?” I asked.

“Shut up and get ready for transport,” Zedekiah said in my ear. My controller sounded even more grouchy than usual.

“Transport?”

“We have to get you out of there before the containment team arrives.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but I felt the tug of transport pulling me away.

When I rematerialized I found myself in an expensive-looking office. A man and a woman were sitting on the opposite sides of a table, each with a lawyer next to them. I wasn’t sure how I knew they were lawyers, but I did.

My wristband, which had gone back to green for a moment, turned bright red.

“Kid, your job is to keep these two from getting divorced.”

Divorce had been a foreign idea to me, and I found it somewhat reprehensible. Especially when children were involved. Yes, I was old-fashioned.

The energy coming off the couple was blood-red. That only happened when pure hate was being felt by one human for another. “Zedekiah, I’m not sure that’s possible.”

“Get the lawyers out of there and then talk to them.”

“I—I’m a rookie. I can’t talk to them.”

“I think you’ll find you can. Whatever you do, don’t let them see you. Don’t flash your sword. Be subtle. I’m going to be gone for a little while. I have confidence that you can handle this yourself.”

“Wait, Zedekiah I—”

But he was gone.

For the first time since I became a Guardian Angel, I was alone.

It felt as if I was a balloon that had just been untied and allowed to float away. My insides twisted, and my mouth went dry.

The conversation in the room became audible. The man was yelling at the woman. “I’m not signing the papers until you agree on this.”

The woman snorted. “Agree that I can’t teach the bird to say bad things about you?”

“Correct.”

They were fighting about a bird?

The woman looked at her lawyer. “This is ridiculous. He agreed to sign the papers this morning. Now this? When does it stop?”

This was a hopeless situation, but I’d do my best until Zedekiah got back. I looked at both lawyers and said, “You need to use the bathroom.”

I must have used a little too much power, because one of them shot to their feet. “We’re taking a fifteen minute break.”

“Good idea,” the other said as he followed the first out the door.

That worked better than I thought it would, and left me alone with the couple. They glowered at one another, the blood-red energy between them got darker, but as I circled the table, I noticed most of it was coming from her. I used my powers to read through the divorce contract in a moment, and frowned when I found that they had three children.

If this was a Guardian Angel mission, then it was probably about the kids. I moved to the woman and whispered in her ear. “Why put the kids through this?”

She snorted.

“What?” the man asked.

“Just wondering if you’re proud of yourself. You’re selfish actions have put the kids and I through hell.”

The man kept his gaze on her. “Janice, you know I love you.” Bright gold energy came from his mouth as he uttered the words. He did love her, and it was a pure love.

What had happened to drive them apart?

“Not enough to keep your hands off of another woman.”

If this hadn’t been a mission, I would have walked away. I didn’t abide those that cheated on their spouses.

“Like you’re one to talk,” the man said.

“I was just talking to him on Messenger. It’s not like I was kissing him.”

“Now you’re lying to yourself and me,” the man said.

This was going downhill fast. “He still loves you,” I whispered to Janice.

She blinked and shook her head. “You only love yourself, Mark.”

I walked through the table to Mark. “This is about the children.”

Mark rubbed his face. “Look, Janice, I know I made a mistake, we both made mistakes, but it’s the kids who are suffering.”

“They’ll suffer less with you out of their lives,” Janice said.

I decided to stay between them. I looked at her and said, “You don’t believe that. Do you want to be a single mom?”

“We can work this out,” Mark said.

That surprised me. I didn’t think either of them would say that on their own. The light on my wristband turned orange.

“I’m tired of trying to work things out,” Janice said, but her heart wasn’t in it.

“This isn’t about a bird,” I said to both of them.

They stared at one another.

“You could try again,” I suggested.

Janice snorted.

Mark’s eyes pled with her to listen to the voice they couldn’t really hear. “We didn’t even try to work it out.”

“That’s because I’m finished with you.”

I leaned toward Janice. “But he still loves you. Don’t walk away from that just yet.”

For the first time the red energy coming from her faltered. Tears gathered in her eyes, and she shook her head.

“You love him too,” I said.

She nodded.

Mark furrowed his brow, not understanding her actions.

“Try again. For the kids,” I said.

Mark spoke first. “Please. Give us another chance. Just six months. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll sign the papers.”

“Do you swear?”

“I swear.”

I raised an eyebrow at the binding green light that flew between them. That was more than a cursory promise. Interesting.

The door opened and the lawyers came back.

“Sorry about that, I—” He stopped when the couple stood.

Janice pushed the papers away. “We’re putting this on hold.”

The two lawyers stared at one another, confused, as the couple walked out together.

I found myself shaking, as if I needed food. “Zedekiah?” I asked.

He didn’t answer.

“Zedekiah?”

Silence.

I glanced around, hoping to see something helpful, but it was just two confused lawyers and I in the room.

What had happened to Zedekiah?

***

Check out Zeek’s Next Adventure HERE!

Did you miss the beginning of Zeek’s story? Click HERE to start from the top!


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31-Jul-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: Rookie

Mission: 11

“How long am I going to be here?” I asked Zedekiah.

My grouchy controller snorted. “We’ve been trying to keep this guy from eating himself to death for months. Everyone who’s not a rookie has had to do it, and now you get to.”

“But I’m a rookie.”

Zedekiah’s usual sarcasm evaporated. “Kid, after what you pulled on your last mission, you’re lucky not to be locked up.”

What I’d pulled? I still didn’t know what I’d done wrong. I opened my mouth to say so, but Zedekiah interrupted me.

“You’re here for twenty-four hours. This guy has to be healthy enough to drag another man off of train tracks and across a street. He’s borderline diabetic, and your job is to keep him from eating everything in sight.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?” I looked around the man’s apartment—he was in the shower at the moment—and took it all in.

He had hidden candy stashes in his office, alcohol in almost every room, a pantry full of cookies and snack cakes, and the fridge was filled with leftover pizza, Chinese, and several items that had rotted beyond recognition.

“I’m granting you the power to move things and to touch him. I’d say to use it sparingly, but no one else has. The last guardian angel assigned had to wrestle a two liter bottle of soda pop from him.”

“Wrestled it away from him?” I asked. “What does he think is going on?”

“According to the notes, he believes in the world of the fey.”

I winced. “People actually believe that still?”

“This guy does. He thinks we are evil sprites, or whatever, trying to keep him from being happy.”

I tried to reason the man out in my mind, but couldn’t. Who thought evil sprites were trying to ruin their life and then not do anything about it? Or had he? “Should I be expecting anything unusual? Traps or anything?”

“This guy isn’t that smart.”

“How many different guardian angels have been here?” I asked.

“Over a hundred.”

“And did any of them come back for a second day?”

“None of them.”

I lifted a finger, as if Zedekiah could see me. “And that’s not suspicious to you?”

“After a day of dealing with this guy, I think you’ll understand.”

I didn’t buy it. First the idiot on the tight rope and now this guy? The bathroom door creaked open. There wasn’t anything in the man’s bedroom, so spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with every treat in the apartment. The volume of carbs within reach of his desk was alarming, to say the least. It had been a while since I’d been human, but I was pretty sure no one person could eat that much sugar in a week, not to mention everything in the pantry. “Does he have friends over?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

The schedule Zedekiah had provided me with stated that this man went out for more snacks every day. How was he not swimming in boxes by now? The light on my wristband turned yellow and started to blink. Zedekiah had warned me that it would probably stay that way for the rest of the day.

I’d expected the man to be huge, but instead he looked pretty normal. A small belly and soft arms, but nothing like the glutton I’d been ready for. He sat down at his desk, pushed a button on his computer, and then reached for a box of cupcakes.

The light on my wristband went orange.

“Better get those away from him,” Zedekiah said.

I sighed, walked over, and took the box. The man let it go without a fight, then reached into his desk drawer for another.

“Seriously?” This time I slapped the box onto the floor. The man shrugged and started playing on his computer. His hand strayed toward a different drawer.

“It’s going to be like this all day,” Zedekiah said.

“Why are we saving him? He clearly doesn’t want to be saved.”

“Someone upstairs needs him.”

The question was why? Why this man, who had no desire to live?

I turned the latest box over, and emptied the contents into the garbage can.

Third time was a charm, because the man shrugged and went to work.

I watched him like a hawk, but he didn’t go for any more snacks until he got up for the first time. After a trip to the bathroom, he went to the kitchen and started piling a plate full of breakfast pastries. I decided to try a different tactic. I walked up to him and said, “You don’t need those.”

He stopped and turned his head to look at me.

At least that’s what it felt like. My insides went cold as he blinked at me once, then resumed the walk back to his desk.

Had he seen me? I rushed after him. “Maybe some milk? Or yogurt?”

The man shook his head and sat at his desk. He’d eaten an entire doughnut before I had a chance to stop him. The rest went into the garbage. He shrugged and went back to working.

He got up every hour. By the time lunch came around the floor was littered with food I’d smacked out of his hand.

There was something seriously wrong here. But if that was the case, why hadn’t anyone else figured it out? I was a rookie. I didn’t have much field experience, but I this had all the signs of a curse.

The man managed to down an entire bottle of soda pop while I was contemplating, and the light on my wristband began to blink red.

Maybe this was a test.

 dredged up what I knew about curses, got the release for one in my mind, walked up to the man and slapped him on the forehead.

My hand went through his head and came out the back, along with a small piece of darkness.

“Kid, what are you doing?” Zedekiah asked.

“It’s a curse,” I said. “Better get a contamination team down here before it gets away.”

Zedekiah swore. “Kid, we’ve got big problems.”

Check out Zeek’s Next Mission HERE!

Did you miss the beginning of Zeek’s story? Click HERE and start from the top!


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