As I Lay Dying
How did I get here? Lying down in the steaming sands of Jerusalem, knocking on heaven’s door.
Not that anyone would answer. God is missing and the archangels have abandoned me. I left my life behind for this escapade. I wasn’t given much of a choice, not when God’s messenger comes knocking. I lost my family and friends. I made new ones on the way, but Lord knows where they are now. Even if no one knows where he is. I want to pray, but who do I pray too?
I try to push myself up, but the sand scolds my beaten hands. My body is worn past its breaking point. My leg feels broken and my chest is caving in. How can I be the hero if I die before I even step on the battlefield? Why am I asking you? You don’t even know the whole story. I don’t know who you are, but it’s nice not to be truly alone. I guess I should explain how I got here.
It feels like ages, but it all started about two weeks ago. I woke up at 5:30 as usual to get ready for school. I didn’t realize it was Saturday until my dad threw a book at me for waking him up. My brother must have set my alarm for me, how nice of the little ass. I got my revenge though. I super glued his tablet to his bedroom ceiling. Mom didn’t like that, but dad thought it was funny. I won’t use their names, it’s just too painful.
At around twelve or one o’clock, I did what normal sixteen year olds do in my town. I drove to Maxwell Park, the hanging spot of all teenagers and old people with nothing to do. We just walk around and play with our smartphones. Hey at least it’s outdoors. I went meet my two best friends, we’ll call them Mike and Alice.
Mike has been like a brother to me since third grade. We’ve gotten into trouble more times than I could imagine, but Mike has always had a charm to him. He could talk his way out of anything. My mom always said he’d grow up to be a conman. He’d always say it’s better than working in an office.
Then there’s Alice, she always knew how to make me smile. She’s smart, funny and really beautiful. Everyone always thought we’d end up together, but we never really clicked in that way. To be honest I always thought her and Mike would be together by now.
They’re always flirting and hinting at something, but it never leads to anything. Maybe they think I’d be upset, but why should I be. They’re perfect for each other. His smart-ass goes together with her sarcasm like chocolate syrup and milk. Stir them up and you get a hell of a show. I miss them more and more.
We sat and talked for a while. Mike told me about the new video game he got. Alice lectured us about the violence in video games. If there’s anyone you really don’t want to argue with, it’s Alice. All it took was Mike saying “It’s not even real.” to set her on a rampage. She spent a solid hour yelling and hollering at us both. What the hell did I do? I still loved them though.
There’s no place I’d rather have been than with my two heathens. The rest of the weekend went by pretty fast. Soon it was time to wake up for school, but for real this time. I got out of bed, went wake up my brother. Then I got a step ladder to turn the alarm on his tablet off. Yeah, that backfired on me.
Mom snuck in the shower first, so I had to wait twenty minutes. As soon as she got out I ran in to get as much hot water as I could. I finished up and got dressed. I went with a plain green shirt and blue jeans. I quickly scarfed down a bowl of cereal and headed out.
I hopped in my dad’s old pickup and started my journey to Maxwell High. It’s about a fifteen-minute drive so I get to listen to my morning playlist. I get about a block down when I see an odd man standing at the corner. He stares at me with a cheesy smile. He’s about average height with grey hair and the same shade mustache. He wore a grey overcoat and tan slacks. His expression changed when he saw what I should’ve been looking at. I ran the stop sign and got greeted by a yellow moving van. Needless to say, I never made it to school.
The next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital room. My mom and dad were staring at me with daggers. I guess under different circumstances they would’ve been relieved that I woke up.
“Why couldn’t you keep your damn eyes on the road?”
“Good to see you too dad.” I said hoarsely
“Do you have any idea the damage you’ve caused?”
I wanted to say something snarky, but I just looked down.
My mom put her hand on my leg, “We’re glad you’re okay Zach, but how could you be so irresponsible?”
I didn’t know what to say, but I knew I had to say something. I gave my most sincere look, “I took my eyes off the road for a second, I didn’t even see the van coming.”
My dad stood up and said, “Well that’s for damn sure! I guess you didn’t see the stop sign either, did ya?”
At that moment, time stood still. My dad froze in place, with a stupid look on his face. I turned to my mom and saw her with her face in her hands. They didn’t move at all, not even to blink. I tried to sit up, but my back had other plans. Pain shot through me like a shotgun blast. I screamed waiting for someone to run in and see what’s going on. The air stood still, until he walked in. The same man at the corner. The man that started it all.
“That sounded like it hurt.”, he said with a British accent. He had a certain flair to him. It’s like when he talked, I didn’t want him to stop. He smiled and walked over to my dad. “Doesn’t seem like a nice fella, but he loves you. So does your mum. Sorry about the other day, didn’t mean to wreck your morning.” He laughed, but I wasn’t too amused. “Poor taste huh? Too soon I guess. Well I believe introductions are in order.”
He took an over-the-top bow and said “I am the Metatron, Messenger of God and the heavens above. I have a mission for you lad. One fraught with perils a plenty. What do you say?” I looked at him dumbfounded. If I hadn’t seen my parents frozen in place, I would never had believed him. Why was the messenger of God British? Why was he here for me? Why am I still asking you questions?
“Um, I’m just a kid. Why would you need me?” I asked that I think. I can’t really remember, I was so confused. He looked me up and down and laughed.
“Believe me you are the last person I’d pick, but the man upstairs has it out for you. Before he went missing he told me you were important. Though I don’t know how important you can be with such poor motor skills.” This guy was starting to piss me off.
He paced back and forth as if he was waiting for something. “Well come on then, it’s time for an adventure.” I just looked at him sideways. He snapped his fingers and the pain was gone. I couldn’t believe it, but strange things were happening left and right. I slowly sat up expecting a whirlwind of pain, but to my delight I felt nothing. All I remember next was standing outside, I don’t even remember getting out of bed. The fact that I had normal clothes on freaked me out.
“How did I get out here and what the hell am I wearing?” I said a bit louder than I was expecting to.
“Easy with that word aye, not too fond of it. Look we’re on a bit of a time schedule, so can we pick up the pace a wee bit?”
I looked at him bewildered, “What about my family!? I can’t leave them here.”
He laughed a little, “Look kid, they ain’t going nowhere. You’ll be back and they’ll never know you’re gone. All peachy now, let’s go.” Before I could say another word, he shuffled me to his car. It was a clunky red bucket of rust, but when he started it the engine roared like a sports car. “She’s busted up, but she’s a beast under the sheets.” he paused for laughter that never came. “You ain’t got no sense of humor do you boy? Get your ass in the car.” I didn’t feel like refusing so I got in.
The inside was a whole lot better than the outside. The seats were nice and the radio was top of the line. He looked at me mischievously and said, “First stop, Chicago!” He revved the engine and took off. He may have been the messenger of God, but he drove like a bat out of hell.
What was I getting myself into? I wonder if I’m still dreaming, just waiting to wake up back at the hospital. We drove for about an hour until we stopped at a gas station south of Chicago. We got out of the car and walked around the back of the station. “Alright boy I guess it’s time I give you the short skinny of it. You see God’s been missing for a bit now, no one knows where to bloody find him. Even me, and I’m the second in command. Well after Michael and Gabriel. To be honest I’m not so much up there, but I’m important.”
I interrupted, “Well apparently so am I. So just get on with will ya?”
He scuffed and said, “Alright you little brat, I need your help to find someone. Someone who could possibly find the Almighty for us all. You see, heaven is in a bit of a civil war at the moment. Michael and Gabriel are at odds about who should run heaven while their daddy is missing. Just so it happens, I bloody found out Gabriel’s gone astray as well. Now with Michael in charge things are a bit calm, but it won’t last long.”
“Wait a minute, it can’t be hard to lose track of God and an angel. How the he… I mean heck did you lose them?” I interrupted yet again.
“Look you little bastard I didn’t bloody lose anyone. I’m not a damn babysitter!”
I couldn’t help myself, “No you’re just a messenger.”
He didn’t like that, not one bit.
He slammed his hands on the side of the gas station and started saying curse words angels shouldn’t even know. “You are just a pain in my arse you know that? Can I continue?” I nodded. “Much appreciated, now where was I? Ah right, we need to find a lad named Jeremy. He’s the prophet that we need to find the big man. He lives in an apartment in downtown Chicago. We get to him, we find God and prevent what’s coming.”
“What’s coming?” I ask.
He just looks down and shuffles his feet.
He finally looks up and says, “Let’s just say the fallen star is trying to rise again.”
© 2017, Zachary Rhoads. All rights reserved.
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