BREWSTER, NEW YORK
“I beg of you, Father; I will not disobey your commands again!” Maxine said, running for her life on the long stretch of sand in the desert of Mount Hermon, as the Angels of the Realm, who had been charged with the destruction of the Fallen, pursued her.
Screams, akin to the screams of the damned, had echoed all around her as the Angels of the Realm hadmercilessly cut down the Fallen.
Beads of sweat pearled on her skin—her long, dark hair pressed hard behind her as if being forced by harsh wind.
The throbbing of her heart. Unsteady, wild, and rhythm-less to the dance of fear. Fear unseen, for only darkness and nothingness, had surrounded her. Fear felt by the rush of wind. The flutter of wings. And the blast of heavenly trumpets. Yet . . . its venomous bite washed through her like a wild river rushing toward the crescendo of its fall.
She felt its brutality in all the fibers of her body and mind—its callous mercilessness. The burning of her skin like hell’s fire, for the air was cold and blistering.
A sudden dust of sand blinded her more, forcing her to cover her eyes. Still, each grain of sand pelted against her skin. Sandblast against the impure. The refuse. The putrefied.
“Forgive me, Father. Please, I beg of you. Spare my life!” she pleaded, again and again, tears burning like acid as they rolled down her cheeks. Even the smell of her own blood and the taste of it on her tongue burned through her like sulfur.
The weight of her feet, heavy like lead, raw like steel, was something of an enigma to her; she’d never really needed to rely on them so desperately before. The land ahead, foreign and unforgiving, had been filled with outcroppings that seemed to have appeared suddenly out of the ground—a far departure from her ethereal world in the Realm of Angels.
She stumbled over a small boulder, and rebounded, trying to recover her footing. Unaware that the Angels had already hacked her wings from her body, she tried to spread her wings—a desperate attempt to take flight but felt only raw and bloodied stumps on her back. She placed a hand on the side of her neck to quell the stab of pain—her hand warmed with her own blood. She cried out to the heavens, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”
Aware of her loss, defeated, and resigned to death, Maxine accepted that she’d been a phantom of what she had once been and what would never be again. Now, all pride and honor, lost for eternity, for she’d been sterilized from the purity and valor of the Realm of Angels.
She’d felt a void at the edge of the rock that she’d stumbled on. It revealed her only refuge—a cave, dark and endless. There she found solace. There three of her kin had survived.
It was done.
Silence filled the air, bereft of all life. Yet the stench of death lingered on.
Maxine snapped her eyes open, wild and roaming, as she lay motionless, afraid to move, afraid to make her presence known. Her body trembled, wet with cold sweat, for the fear had not ceased. The smell of death, strong. She’d peered into the darkness still surrounding her, breath…still. Waiting to be discovered. Waiting for her life to end, her hands to the sides of her neck, feeling wildly for the wound she’d believed would end her life. She sat up abruptly, listening to the silence, exhaling slowly, eyes and mind adjusting. The small, square room. The pink walls. The white chair fixed in a corner. The multi-colored stripe curtains hanging from the window. It was only then she’d realized she’d been safe in her room all along, and her nightmare had been just that: a nightmare.