The Angel split the firmament, clawing and tearing his way through the bounds of reality. Waves of energy burst from the jagged hole torn in the universe, sweeping stars to the side and reducing entire planets to radioactive dust. Turning his face towards the edge of the galaxy, the Angel Shaftiel spread his ethereal wings and rode gravity currents through eddies of space and time.
It was an age before he spotted his destination. A blue and white world hung in the void, covered from pole to pole by the humans. Shaftiel did not fully understand these people, and had been sent ten times before to punish ten separate nations. Their obliteration was so thoroughly complete that their names were utterly unknown to not only the modern world; they were also unknown to the ancient world.
He hovered over the orb below, considering the fact that this place was normally off-limits to him and his angelic brethren, and began his descent down through the swirling clouds. Shaftiel’s wings folded themselves into the shadow of this small island of reality, and he began to dive head first into the pool of gravity. He slammed into the glistening pavement in the middle of a large city in an alley hidden between two ramshackle and deserted buildings. Rainwater poured over the edges of the roofs, plastering the Angel’s stark white hair to his head.
Pulling himself to his feet, Shaftiel leaned against ancient bricks, dry heaving and gagging. A few minutes later he shoved himself back from the wall and glowered down to the end of the alley. There was a transient huddled within a shelter made of cardboard, wrapped in numerous filthy blankets and warmed by a bottle of cheap whiskey. Shaftiel could hear the man’s sleeping breaths, and his heart beating slowly in his chest. He sniffed the cold air and caught the man’s stench through the rain.
Shaftiel began walking bare footed towards the mouth of the alley, waving a hand over the sleeping form as he passed. The homeless man’s breathing and heartbeat came to a sudden stop, the body convulsed once, and Shaftiel began to walk with more energy. Such was the long-destined fate of the man, and the Angel took solace in the fact that he was now ensured of eternal paradise as compensation for his sacrifice. He stood straighter, and with a minor trick of reality his hair dried itself and began to slowly writhe as if caught in a breeze. He paused before passing into the street, and waved his hand over another homeless person cowering in the shadows. The man had seen the Angel’s power, and was afraid, until he too fell to the ground. These men were in this place at this time specifically for this purpose. Such was the clockwork design of things. Shaftiel pulled the overcoat off of the corpse and pulled it on, buttoning it from the middle button down.
The Angel walked calmly down the street, ignoring the numerous wraiths and spirits fleeing from his presence into the night. Shaftiel peered through the rain at the surrounding city until he found the building he was to enter. Striding down the middle of the street, Shaftiel’s dark figure passed between empty cars and vacant windows. As he walked by lamp posts, their sodium bulbs flickered and died, while a slight glow began to appear around his head.
He stood at the double doors leading into a tall cathedral, the towers of which stabbed into the black sky. Shaftiel glanced up into the falling rain, and shook off the gathering cold. The doors opened themselves outwards, causing dust on the stone floor to puff into the air. The Angel walked across the threshold, the dust curling over his shoulders to form the faint hint of ephemeral wings.
A single individual, a young woman, sat huddled on one of the pews, her head bowed in tearful prayer. Shaftiel walked up the center aisle, his bare feet padding softly on the cold floor. He came to a stop at her side and stared down at her. When she noticed his presence through her sad reverie, the girl looked up at the ivory face with awe in her eyes.
A lone priest hurried across the church only to be knocked to his knees when Shaftiel turned his stern gaze towards the man. “The words I have are not meant for your ears,” the Angel said, and the priest fell to the floor in a stupor.
“I have something to tell you,” Shaftiel said to the girl, his voice soothing and loud at the same time. He bent down and whispered in her ear for a few seconds. As comprehension dawned on her tear-streaked face, the Angel straightening his back, mumuring, “Amen.” With that he turned back towards the doors, her fingertips brushing his coat in supplication. He did not look back as the young woman threw herself sobbing to the floor in the middle of the aisle.
The rain continued to pour on the wretched city, somehow unable to wash the filth and the grime from the streets and gutters. Shaftiel turned his head back to the emptiness above and smiled broadly as he spread his arms. His mission complete, he unfurled his faint wings into the world and lifted himself into the sky. He had no idea what the words he said to the young woman meant, but he trusted that there was a real purpose to what he’d been tasked with. This world had a delicate and intricate reality, and often the most significant events were affected by the most inconsequential seeming incidents.
Something had to make the butterfly’s wings flutter.