His own breath echoed inside him. His heart raced in his chest and his pulse hammered against his ear drums. All his innards felt like they had congregated in his throat. He swallowed hard and the sound of it, for him, seemed to rock the earth. Beads of sweat burst forth from his pores and doubt sent out one last feeler to his conscience. No! He reprimanded himself. He must not doubt now. He must go on. This was no time for doubt. This was time for action; to fulfil his destiny.
The crowd around him was making a din but their noise didn’t reach him. There was silence inside him as he stood there, watching them. People of the city. On their way to work. Glued to their phones. Infidels. They just had time for themselves. They didn’t take the time to be thankful to their Maker. They did not heed His wishes and lived like pigs. This was the scum that poisoned the world today and he had been chosen to bring the word of The Lord to them. He was destined to show them how angry He was. He was to unleash His wrath upon them all and later, he would be rewarded by The Lord himself for his service. They had named him The Messenger.
Resolution straightened his spine and strangled the feeler of doubt. He glanced at the giant clock on the clock tower. The longer hand moved as the minute changed. It was time.
The Messenger held his breath and pressed the tiny button in his pocket.
Pain like he had never felt before ripped through him. Every nerve ending was on fire and he felt himself being ripped apart. He screamed but his voice was never heard over the ear splitting roar of the explosion. The agony seared through his flesh and he thought he could take no more when a white light appeared before his eyes and he felt himself falling…. Falling….
When The Messenger opened his eyes, he felt weightless. His vision was blurred for a moment and then it all became clear. He felt around and realized that he was sitting on clouds. This was heaven! He had made it! Joy, the likes of which he had never felt before filled his soul! It was just like they had predicted! He got to his feet to examine his surroundings. The riches, the glory must be waiting here somewhere for him; his to be claimed. He looked around and found only clouds… Then as he looked carefully, light seemed to be blooming from behind a large cloud. He inched towards it and the cloud began to shift. His face was stretched in a huge smile. He was content. Then the cloud shifted completely and his eyes saw the source of the light.
There stood a wooden work desk with a book upon it. Behind the table sat an old man and the light seemed to radiate from him. He had long flowing silver hair and beard. His robes were a dazzling white too. His eyes were a piercing blue that seemed to look through The Messenger’s soul. The face was wrinkled. There was an immense sadness in the man’s gaze as he looked upon him. It was a few moments before the young boy realized who the old man was but the moment he did, he fell to his knees and prostrated himself before the divine being. And when he looked up again, he saw that He still had a deep sadness upon His features and he frowned. The Messenger said, “My lord! I have arrived!”
He heaved a huge sigh of sorrow as His eyes studied the boy before Him and he said, “so you have, my son… So you have”
The Messenger was confused. He had expected a grand welcome like they had said. He felt foolish standing here, not knowing why he was being regarded with such sorrow; like he had committed a mistake. And unbidden, he remembered the small nudge of doubt just before the end and he felt ashamed of himself; The Lord knew about it. He had disappointed Him. He bowed low and said, My Lord, I beg your pardon for my moment of weakness… It was just a moment and I mastered it for you.”
His sad gaze didn’t lighten and The Messenger was further befuddled. He looked up and asked, have I displeased you in any way, My Lord?”
The blue gaze saddened even more as He said, “In more than one way…” And he proceeded to open the book lying on the table and ran his finger down the first page saying, “When I sent you to earth, I cried at the conditions that I had set you amidst. No father at birth and a mother I was to summon in a matter of weeks. But I told myself that I had given you the gift of courage and bravery and that you’d make it through…”
The Messenger sat before the desk and listened. He went on, “When you were but a boy of 5, I saw that you were deprived of love and friendship so I sent you a companion; a puppy. Oh how glad I was when you held that little creature and swore to protect it and be with it for the rest of your life. But you broke your word….” The sad eyes again rested upon the features of the boy. The Messenger looked up, feeling that he needed to defend himself said, “But My Lord, that was your test! I passed…”
“You killed your first and only friend..! I cried that day. I was so sad, I came down to meet you in the form of that old man. I tried telling you that this was not my word but you didn’t pay me any heed! At age 10, you were already inching out of my reach!”
The Messenger’s heart sank as he said, “But My Lord, how was I to know?”
The blue eyes went back to the book and he read on, “Then when you were 11, I sent you another sign. I prepared a path for your escape so that if you chose to come back to me, you should not be harmed. I sent a childless couple to take you under their wing and under my protection but you hurt them too. For four years you ate bread with them and lived under their roof…”
“That was my first mission! They told me you would be pleased with me if I completed it!”
“… When they looked at you that last time as you pointed that gun at them, they were broken… When they reached me, your foster mother cried tears of blood in my arms. Your foster father blamed himself for what you had become. I cried too because I, your Father, had not felt that hurt ever before.”
“My Lord, I did it all for you..! Trust me, had I known…”
“I came down again as the old man and tried to win you over once more… but this time, you were far gone…. You abused me and turned your gun at me…”
“They told me the old man was the Devil’s word! They said he was trying to misguide me!” The Messenger yelled.
“… I felt helpless as I watched you sin over and over again. I had given you courage and bravery and you used these as weapons upon others. You killed and you watched killings and celebrated and at each fallen head, you called my name and I bled…”
The Messenger was now crying, rivulets of sorrow trickled down his stricken face as he looked upon the face so fallen with sorrow on his account.
Then the sad eyes regarded him once again as he turned the last few pages of the book, “And just now, I saw you poised at the edge and I made my last attempt. I appealed to your heart, I tried to make you doubt your action. But you had moved far out of my reach… You didn’t hear me. You thwarted me and you committed the most heinous crime upon humanity…” He read from the last few pages, “you took away mothers from their children. You took away children from their mothers. You took away fathers and grand parents. You took away unborn babies….”
“I did not know! I did not know!” Howled the boy as he crumpled before the table of judgement. “They lied to me!”
“But I never told you anything but the truth… You chose to listen to their twisted interpretation of my word but you didn’t choose to listen when I myself spoke to you…”
“I was told that it was your Will to show your wrath to those infidels!”
“My wrath..? My child, I came to you even when you sinned to try and win you back… I made you… Like I made all those others…. They all sin too but I visit them myself… They are my children! How could I have wanted this for them?”
The boy all but choked with tears as he wept.
“I tried… But you never have me a chance… Now, I can do naught…”
The boy looked up at the wrinkled face in fear and felt for the first time, the full impact of what he had done. He felt warmth growing behind him and he turned his head to see a black gate opening up behind him. Black fire issued from it and a form seemed to emerge from within it. He turned panicked eyes to Him and begged, “I am your child! I wronged but I knew not any other way! I bypassed your signs and squandered your blessings but forsake me not! Save me from the wrath of the Beyond! I shall do anything to be with you!”
The old man looked down at the young boy and said, “I wish it weren’t this ways child. But your fate is what you made it. There is nothing I can do…”
The Messenger looked on in fear and words failing him, he pleaded with his eyes, trying to appeal to the divine being but the old man just looked on as a monstrous creature advanced from the gates of Beyond, coming to claim what was his. The boy cried uncontrollably. The old man looked at him one last time and said, “you used to be fascinated by butterflies… How did you let this happen..?” And a silvery tear filled and overflowed from one blue eye into the silver of the beard. The boy felt a scorching heat upon his heel and turned to see that he was in the grip of the creature of the Dark. He knew even as he screamed for help that there was no way out and as the creature lifted him by his foot, he dangled in the air. His last pleading glance found the table and sought the man behind it but when he looked, he saw the old frame of The Lord slumped forward on the table, heaving with sobs…. Lamenting the loss of yet another son…