Mara sat on the front porch swinging her feet and looked up at one of those dense puffy gray clouds. She wondered out loud about how inviting and soft they look.
“No, they’re thick and cold,” said Samael. “Unimaginably cold. When you fly through them, it’s completely dark and the cold suffocates you. It’s like flying through frozen cotton candy made of shattered fragments of glass.The ice shreds you. When you finally get through the clouds to open sky, you are covered with frozen cuts that melt and leave you slick with blood when your body finally warms up again. There’s not much worse than having to fly through a cloud.”
There was always something new to learn about an angel. Mara knew he could fly, but didn’t think that meant he went beyond the clouds.
He told her that no one liked to fly large distances because of the cold and the friction of the wind that was generated if you flew faster than the wind currents. It is too uncomfortable. Angels prefer to use other portals to travel when at all possible, and in most cases the battles they fight are in other times or in places not accessible directly from Earth.
“So that’s why I just see you suddenly walking out of nowhere? Portals?”
Samael nodded, and made a vague gesture around the house.
“There are several in the fields and woods around your house, no one knows about them. Not any more.”
“Any more? People knew about them before? When? Is it dangerous?”
“Not people. I am taking care of them. Nothing will hurt you.”
Mara looked up at Samael and knew he would not tell her what the things were that he took care of or where they came from. She also knew she didn’t want to know what they would do to her if they came through one of the portals.
“Not people, my treasure. Such monsters do not have a place in this world. It would be very bad for one to come through. I am trying to make sure it does not happen. It is a difficult fight. There are some things that are not easy, even for a Destroyer.”
“Is that why you stayed away so often when you first got here? That time you came home so badly hurt?”
Suddenly Mara found herself standing, tucked behind Samael’s wings, his entire body alert.
The creature, who was supposed to be dead, walked toward Samael from the field with its arms outspread. In what appeared, to Mara, to be a motion of surrender or to show it was not carrying weapons.
Later, she would not be able to say exactly why she thought of it as a creature rather than a person. It looked human. It wore jeans and a white t-shirt and walked on two legs. Upright. With an apparently human gait.
She wasn’t quite sure when she noticed the creature left no footprints. Or that he hadn’t stirred up a bit of dust walking down the dirt road in front of the house.
She wouldn’t be able to define how she knew that the creature was neither dead nor exactly alive. It was the same way she knew that Samael could tell the creature was there and wanted her to go in the house. The same way she knew that being unarmed was not the same thing as being harmless. She was closing the door just as Samael launched himself through the air at the creature.
The last thing Mara saw as the door swung shut was a shimmer at the edge of the field where Samael and the creature disappeared.
Mara got a bottle of beer from the fridge, and sat back down on the front porch with a book. She might as well pretend to read while she waited.
It would help her pretend she wasn’t terrified.