It’s dark. (It’s always dark.)
The glyph covered rod in my left hand is warm from my grip as I look up into the infinite black sky. (It’s always dark.)
(Saint) George said I needed a control rod, something to hold on to. Not to force my fears to submit to me and yield (which they will never do), but to remind me that no matter how large my fears become, no matter how small I feel before them, I’m still here.
I look down at my left hand. The rosary is wrapped loosely around my hand. Its crucifix dangles between my fingers. It is black and shiny and plain. Like the armor I am waiting to see.
I hear something, but I am not sure if it is an actual noise or a wish too strongly made. I take a step towards it, kicking pebbles into movement as my stance slips and I realize I’m standing on a rocky slope. It is a place I remember but cannot identify because of the complete lack of stars above me.
(Has it always been this dark?)
A glimmer sparks above me, pulling my attention towards it. A newly revealed star in an infinite black sky. I don’t have to look to know the glyphs glow brightly neon blue on the surface of the jet rod in my left hand. They are a beacon for the descending star.
They come. I wait. I am not afraid to see them. Not afraid to know what they are. Not afraid to be with reach of them. Only afraid that they will find some reason to reject me now that I am standing still.
Other stars are lit by the wake of the one descending. They follow as escort and witnesses. Their combined light chases the darkness out of the sky to the where the mountain meets the horizon. There, the darkness slips over the edge to escape the increasing cavalry of angels swiftly approaching me.
I am not surprised to see the heavens igniting. I am not afraid of the holy fire unfurling in the sky above me. Even though the presence of these greater angels implies the heralding of my death, I am calm.
Let what comes, come.
I will not run.
The light suddenly increases by an intensity I cannot source but is all pervasive. A feeling of heat comes from under my skin, from the flesh between organs. I turn my gaze away from the descending angels to look at my hands which are suddenly luminescent.
The glow coming from my flesh drowns out the glyphs on the rod. The rod appears as dark as what had fled from the advancing angels. I don’t realize my legs have weakened until my knees strike the intolerant rocks below me.
I open my mouth to cry out, and a holy flame consumes my tongue from within.
I look up. The black armored angel is almost upon me. Their armor does not cover all of them, but what is not covered cannot be seen. Only their armor and their wings and the palpable desire for communion can be perceived.
The rod falls from unfeeling fingers as the holy flame races through blood and along sinew, overwhelming my senses with the judgement that comes for flesh.
I am afraid.
I reach up with my right hand. The fingers twitch as I vainly try to extend them. Let me touch you. Let me touch the object of my fear. After all this time, after all this struggle, don’t let me die without closing this connection at last.
They reach with their right hand in the same gesture. They sweep back their wings as they abandon the graceful descent they initially approached me with. I can feel their sense of urgency. Behind them, the escorts and the witnesses push with their glory to further propel the black armored angel towards me.
The holy flame erupts from failing flesh, tearing me to pieces as the Holy Spirit consumes the last of my doubt. As the holy flame unmakes my eyes, with the last of my sight I see a black gloved hand closing around disintegrating, immolating flesh.
I have you.
I am with you.
I have always been here.
The promises will be kept.
Black wings are poised above me in a vain attempt to shelter me from the intensity of light emanating from the gathered witnesses. Wings as black as shadow, as shiny as steel, remain unmoving despite the pressing of others wanting to view me.
I feel feverish, as if I would erupt into flames at any moment. Something cold, hard, and smooth lies across my chest, pinning me against another something cold, hard, and smooth beneath my shoulders. I shudder from the sensation. A cold hard hand smooths my brow. I see shiny black metal crossing my vision.
I reach up with my unrestrained right hand and see I have no flesh. I look through the solidified light that reacts to my will and see the witnesses gathered around us. The restraint moves to allow movement and I lift my left hand.
It too, is light.
I look under the armor that lies across my chest, through my nakedness, through the transparencies that is my flesh, and see my beating heart made of a flame so pure, it appears blue.
I look up at my guardian. The black armored angel is holding me where I collapsed on the slopes of the mountain. They lift their visor. I can feel the heat of an intense flame, but I am able to see nothing within their armor. Somehow, I know they are smiling at my limitations. They lower their visor.
The witnesses, content in their observations, leave us in silence and peace. Some return to the sky where their light is removed from my sight. Some follow the path the darkness took and slip over the horizon to the world below.
The black armored angel says nothing as my body cools and solidifies into flesh, blood, and bone once more. As it happens, I tire more and more as my mortality returns to me.
Once completely human again, the angel pulls me into their arms and holds me close. They reach down, pick up something that was on the ground, and places it on my chest. The jet rod no longer glows with helpful glyphs.
They stand, picking me up as they go. Silently, they carry me down the slope of the mountain to the edge of the world. I recognize where I am and why there were no stars in the sky above us. Without communication I know they are carrying me back to the world below.
I shudder as a pervasive cold I had never noticed steals what little warmth my human body can generate. I cannot exist here as flesh. They hold me tighter, and the warmth from within their armor holds the cold at bay.
I have never felt more safe.
They are waiting for some word from me, but I have none to give them. My lungs are failing in the airless environment and my body feels as inert as stone. I cannot stay here, but I am powerless to leave. I can only yield my trust to them. I try to display that by holding my face against their armored chest and closing my eyes.
The black armored angel holds me tight, and jumps.
I am with you.
The promises will be kept.
Your faith will be rewarded.