Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Exciting News and Samael - Nightgale Blog Challenge #2


I received an exciting e-mail today from the WOW - Women on Writing website, informing me that I survived the first round of judging in the Fall 2011 Flash Fiction Contest.  That means out of roughly 285 entries, my story is in the eighty-five that will be sent to the guest judge for the second round of judging.  I feel so lucky to even be in the eighty-five!

Here is the second installation of the Nightgale Blog Challenge.  The prompt was "Immortality comes to you, you do not go to immortality."  This story is a little longer, but has more action, so I hope it still reads quickly for you all.

Don't forget that on Friday I will welcome Jess Witkins for a guest blog.  I have read the blog, and it's a good one!  Please come and tell Jess "hi"!

Samael
Bright flashes of light sped past Samael as he hurtled through the Heavens.  He slowed when he reached the borders of space and time, and grimaced at the sudden sensation of gravity.  The pull on the essence of his being was disturbing, if not downright uncomfortable.

When he reached Earth, the city streets were cheery in the midday summer sun.  They gave no hint of the tragedy about to befall one man, and a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Brownie.

Samael checked his watch.  Two minutes to go.  He spotted Brownie down the street, leashed, and ambling toward him at the heels of his human.

The middle-aged woman wore yoga pants and a loose t-shirt that covered the bulges around her middle.  She had bags under her eyes, and limp hair that looked as tired as the woman did.

An angel named Dunrahl hovered near the duo, and, noticing Samael came over to him.

“Are you here for Sylvia? I wasn’t made aware of a change of assignment.”

“I’m not here for Sylvia.” He knew how rude he sounded, but didn’t care.  None of the other angels wanted anything to do with him.  The only reason Dunrahl came over was out of concern for the human. “The dog is coming with me, though.”

“Not good, Sam, not good,” the angel shook his head, “That dog is her life. She doesn’t have any family, and the dog is her only companion.” 

“It’s not my problem he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I’m taking him, and that’s how it is.”  Samael looked at his watch again.  The man should be arriving soon.

Samael leaned against the storefront window and watched the people milling around him while he waited.  A group of teenage girls window shopped through him, laughing and giggling about some important nonsense.  He wondered what they would do if they knew they had a brush with Death.

At that moment, a red Volkswagen bug careened around the corner.

Right on time.

The man inside slumped over the steering wheel.  The car bounced over the curb, and continued in a path headed straight for the woman and Brownie.

The woman’s eyes grew huge.  She screamed as the car bore down upon her and her doomed dog.

Samael shook his head. They always screamed. Why didn’t they run or fight? That made better sense than screaming.

Brownie had better sense. He strained at his leash, and pulled the woman out of the way of the car.

The man’s spirit popped free of his body as the car hit the building.  He landed in the street to the side of the Volkswagen. He looked around, an expression of pure confusion plastered across his face.

One down, one to go.

The car bounced off the building, and skidded sideways.

Brownie didn’t have a chance.  The front wheels slid over the top of him, crushing him. His spirit shook itself out of its body, like he’d just had a bath and needed to dry off.

The car slid to a stop inches from the woman.

Absolute silence followed the crash, and then chaos rang through the street.  Samael already heard the sirens of the rescue vehicles that had been called into action.

The teenage girls ran toward the wreckage, half-fearful of what they’d find and half-excited to have seen the whole thing.

Over it all, the wails of the woman pierced the air.  She knelt between the front and back wheels, next to Brownie’s lifeless body. She rocked back and forth, sobbing, and petted the dog’s head.

Dunrahl caught Samael’s eyes, with an expression that said “I told you so.”

Samael turned to the man, still in the middle of the street, and tried block out the woman’s anguished cries.

“Hey,” he said, “Over here.”

The man stared at him. “I… Am I dead?”

Samael raised his right eyebrow. “What do you think?”

Dunrahl gave him an aggravated glance.  He approached the man, and said, “You have to go to the Heavens now.  I AM has called you to return.” He jerked his head toward Samael.  “He will show you the way.”

The man looked at the Angel of Death with suspicion. “I’m supposed to go with him?”

Samael didn’t answer.  He had only heard half of the exchange, distracted by the scene next to the car. 

He watched the woman, his lips pressed into a straight line.  “Humans put too much emotion into their pets,” he muttered. 

Still, something about the woman’s grief pulled at him. He couldn’t look away from the dog, which had taken up his position at her heels, and sat patiently as she attended to his body.

He crossed over to the dog.  Its amber colored eyes were soft when he turned to face Samael.  Starting on his chin, the angel scratched the soft fur, worked his way up over the dog’s jaws, and finished at the hollow behind Brownie’s ears.

“All right,” Samael said, so only Brownie could hear.  He patted the dog on the head.  “Go back.”  He snapped his fingers, and pointed at the dog’s body.

Brownie bumped Samael’s hand with his nose, working his head under the angel’s hand.  The tension around the angel’s eyes lessened, and Samael felt his heart expand a bit. 

Aware of Dunrahl watching him, Samael scowled and said, “Now move it, before I change my mind.”

He strode back over to Dunrahl and the man.  He didn’t look back when cheers erupted from the group huddled near the car.

“Let’s go,” he motioned for the man to follow him, and headed for the Gate to the Heavens.

9 comments:

  1. Congrats on making it to the second round! I read Samael and was stressed out the whole time. I loved it and I'm thankful for the happy ending. I'm a dog lover and it would have broke my heart if Brownie didn't make it. :) Good luck on round two.

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  2. Congrats on making it through the first round! That is awesome!

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  3. Beautiful story. Congrats on WoW first round!

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  4. Angels are jerks. "Why didn't the old lady fight the car?"

    I'm a sucker for stories in which Heaven is a slightly cynical place, though. I really enjoyed this piece. Congrats on the WoW round as well!

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  5. Thanks for the congrats and nice words on the story.

    @Crystal: I couldn't have made Brownie stay dead - I would have felt too terrible. :)

    @Kelley: Thank you!

    @Charles: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the second story, too.

    @Daniel: What can I say about rude angels... But thanks for the congrats, and I'm glad the story was to your liking!

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  6. Excellent pace, the story moved along beautifully. I can see why congrats are in order.

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  7. Thanks again, Robert! I'm so happy you liked the second story, too!

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  8. Congrats on making it to the second round of WOW!

    Samael was absolutely amazing--the whole thing with Brownie actually made me cry. In fact the line ""All right," Samael said, so only Brownie could hear." still gets me as I re-read.

    I think I can relate to Samael's cold practicality--I feel like it would be very difficult to be the angel of death without developing some callousness.
    So that's part of why it's so moving for me that he can feel moved by Brownie.

    No one really likes death and that makes it a hard role to fill, but I love how at the end of the story Samael is still an angel with a heart.

    So much going on in this one, the woman screaming instead of a more appropriate reaction but Brownie pulling her to safety when Brownie was the one of the two scheduled to die. Very powerful stuff.

    And finally I liked getting more from your sci-fi-feeling heaven setting.

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  9. Thanks, David! You're making me blush! Samael shows up in the next story as well, so I'm hoping I can capture him as well in it. I put off writing it until last night, so I'm kind of rushed now. ;P

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