In the Care of Angels

by M. W. Anderson

Home - Art - Fiction - Poetry - Anthologies - News - Links


Inexplicably, the light seemed damp; the smell declared itself dry and herbal in its fragrance.  She had no idea that her fear could smell that way.

The dimming light seemed to cling to her skin, leaving her feeling oddly embarrassed, and ridiculously self-conscious.  She felt...sticky.

With each step toward the room, she could discern a little more detail.  She began to hear sounds.  They too were raspy.

A thump--a goblet falling on carpet, perhaps--a curse within hissing breath.

It was the rustling, the light, hollow rasping, that finally unnerved her enough to speak with a small and timid timbre.

“Who...” she began to ask, but then silenced herself, her hand flying to cover her mouth.

Shuffling sounds.  Voices, indistinct, yet oddly troublesome, and--familiar.

“Listen,” whispered one to another, both remaining within the study’s confine--neither seeing her.

“...Out of its cage,” said a distinctly male voice, speaking lowly, but no longer whispering.

And while those words unsettled her, it was her words, a silk-voiced female--a voice filled with cool venom and steely assertion--it was her meaning, unknown yet somehow dreadful, that caused her to turn and flee:

“Ah, be careful, dear.  Take care not to spill the wine.”

And as she ran blindly into the great hall’s darkness, she knew that she had no memory of a cage of her own, nor how she came to be.

The light was not light.

The smell did not originate with her fear, though it may have been aroused by it.

And then suddenly her flight was over; a twisted lump in the rug--falling--breathless and face down was she.

The stickiness (is it only fear that is fetid, cloying, and tight?) held her to the sticking place, prostrate on the ancient oriental.

Yet this web-like fear, this invincible force, so compelling, and so utterly debilitating, could not kill the curiosity, the child-like wonder that welled-up in her as the smell of dry herbs (pungent-sweet, and a bit sickening) and the dissonance of dark feathered wings descended, the whole of her vision filled with fluttering shadows.

* * * *

She awoke with a start--hellish were dreams in Heaven.  The heat of the sun had spared fabled Icarus; better to drown in the depths of the Aegean , than to sleep in the care of angels.

Through her window she saw a Seraphim descend on a Cherub; the small angel resembled a slaughtered winged pig hanging in the claws of the seraph.

For what she had witnessed daily through the small open window had revealed unsettling truths:

The ethereal songs of paradise were indeed a balm for disembodied souls.

Creatures of flesh, however, fell under the reign of God, creator of all, and his singular law was this: survival of the fittest.

Through the bars at the end of her cell, she saw the winged toddlers looking at her with increasing interest.

‘Thank God,’ she thought, ‘they’re not yet weaned.’

But their mother, worn and weary, studied her with hopeful eyes.