I … T
H … A … D
L … O … N … G
N … E … C
L … I … K … E
J … I … R … A … F … F
The two girls laugh at Toby’s miss-spelt message.
“That’s so funny, Toby,” Kate says, staring at a makeshift Ouija board with lifeless, doll-like eyes. “I’ll remember that joke. But it’s time for you to step into the light, and say goodbye. Will you say goodbye, Toby?”
The upturned glass, on which our three index fingers rest, slides across a coffee table. The spirit guiding it leaves abruptly after pointing to the word, GOODBYE.
“He sounds so happy,” Vicki says, beaming. Cute dimples appear on her unblemished cheeks. “The lost souls are always happy when they step into the light.”
“They have returned to God,” Kate says solemnly.
As we three lift our fingers from the glass, I ask, “How did Toby get lost? Why couldn’t he find the light?”
“He used a Ouija board once too often,” Kate says.
“What? But Toby was only a young boy. Did his parents not know? Surely they would have known.”
“The Ouija board traps the innocent child within us all,” Kate says. “Toby may have been older than he seemed—perhaps our age, when he got trapped. He only appeared young because he’d been lost and afraid in the dark for so long.”
“But how can it trap someone?” I ask, glancing first to the Ouija board, and then to Vicki. “You shouldn’t have asked me to this if it is so dangerous. I shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here, Vicki.”
Kate explains as Vicki slips her slender fingers beneath mine. “You are right, it is dangerous. Ouija draw people in, and persuade them everything they spell out is real. Sometimes, it even guides them to commit suicide, and damn their souls forever. But we are all safe: Asim watches over us.”
“But how do you know that this spirit guide of yours is real? Why do you trust this Asim? He could be an evil spirit.”
Vicki responds, “Kate can hear him, that’s why, Sweetie. And I feel his presence when he is near. Asim does’t need the Ouija board to communicate, unlike dark spirits and demons. He protects us while we use the Ouija board to find those who have become trapped by it. Sometimes he helps us guide the lost towards the light.”
“But the college? What if someone found out—saw us? They’d tell the Principal and we’d all be expelled.”
“Sweetie, if someone saw us doing what? The curtains are closed and the door is locked. None of the other students have a clue what we are doing. And besides, if there was a fire alarm or something, we’d hide the bits of paper in our pockets. Why do you think we don’t use a real Ouija board?”
“We wouldn’t get expelled, anyway,” Vicki continues. “Principal Hatherton is not that bad. Trust me, I’ve met him. He’s a sweet guy who would just quote Leviticus at us.” Vicki mimics our principal drawling voice, and quotes: “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, in fear of being defiled by them!’”
Feeling uncomfortable, I challenge, “Seriously, why risk it? Why risk expulsion, or even becoming trapped by the Ouija board yourselves? Vicki, you shouldn’t be doing this?”
Vicki’s lips flatten—dimples disappear: she knows I am serious. But Kate wrestles her attention from me before I can continue. “Why do not all Christian denominations perform exorcisms? Why do we learn so little about combatting the dark forces during our degree? Is not the battle against the Devil real? Shouldn’t we be prepared to forgive and save those who are possessed because of their dabbling in black magic? And why not meditate as well as pray, and learn to open the third eye—the prophet’s eye? We should learn about exorcism, and—”
“What?” Incredulous, I laugh without humour. “Are you saying our course lacks a dark arts class? For goodness sake, Kate, why not conjure up Professor Snape and ask him to be our tutor?”
“This is serious, Solomon. God’s war against Lucifer is—” The big girl with an acne-scarred complexion coughs raucously. Drawing a handkerchief from her sleeve, she plants a lung-full of phlegm into it. Kate then sits like a forlorn orangutan, with mucus falling from chapped lips, and Vicki rubbing her back. I look on, feeling disturbed by the proceedings, and a little revolted. The coughing fit continues, until Kate shrugs off Vicki’s attention and says, “We are not seeking out mediums, or sorcerers, or anything God forbade, for we are mediums fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.”
“Rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world? Ephesians? Come off it, Kate. You can’t quote Ephesians to condone speaking with the dead.”
“Yes, Ephesians, Sweetie,” Vicki says, defending her best friend. Gazing at me with innocent aquamarine eyes, she repeats herself with a tone that somehow begs me to understand: “Ephesians.”
“The Bible tells us that a spiritual fight surrounds us,” Kate continues. “What is the point of our studies if we blind ourselves to the fight? If Lucifer has snared souls with the Ouija, shouldn’t we cast a light into their darkness? Shouldn’t we guide the lost to Heaven? Isn’t that what Jesus would do?”
Averting my eyes from Kate’s disdainful glare, I shake my head. “No, this is not right.”
“Sweetie.” Vicki shuffles closer, leans in, and kisses. Her lips linger on mine, before she says, “I know you worry about me, but this is my choice, my way of serving God. If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine. But please, don’t tell anybody. I trust you. I trust you more than I trust myself.”
Lips tingling, heart lifted, I look on the circular coffee table before us. Numbers zero to nine, and the alphabet’s letters, sit around its perimeter. Completing the circle, the definite YES and NO flanking the indecisive MAYBE, and the all-important GOODBYE.
“Is there anybody there?” Kate calls to Spirit for the sixth time tonight.
“Hello? Is there anybody there? We are here for lost souls. Is there anybody there? Hello? Come through if you can hear us. We are here to communicate with lost souls and help them find the light.”
As always, anxious expectancy overwhelms me, and the silence punctuating Kate’s calls seems unearthly.
“Is there anybody there?”
The glass moves forcibly. Surprised by the sudden jolt, our eyes fix on the glass that ricochets between:
“Hello, Wendy,” Vicki says, before whispering to me, “Wendy always spells hello like that.”
Kate says aloud, “How are you Wendy? Are you happy?”
“What is it like where you are now, Wendy?”
D … A … R … C
The glass returns to the board’s centre, indicating the end of a spelt word.
A … N … D
C … O … L … D
A … M
V … E … R … Y
C … O … L … D
The girls work out the message together, aloud: “It is very dark and cold, Wendy?”
“So you still can’t find the light?” Vicki asks.
“I know you are scared,” Vicki continues, “but find the light and there won’t be anything to be afraid of anymore. Look for the light, Wendy.”
The glass oscillates violently from one side of the board to the other.
“OK, Wendy. It’s OK. Don’t worry, Wendy.”
“Vicki, why doesn’t she look for the light?”
Vicki answers, “We don’t know. Kate’s been trying for ages to help her, even before I joined her. But none of us will give up on you, will we Wendy?”
“Maybe she was born blind?”
Kate sniggers at my insight. “No one is blind in the spirit world.”
“Oh, she’s talking,” Kate says.
The glass rushes towards me.
“That’s Solomon. He’s Vicki’s boyfriend. He wants to help you too.”
“Hello.” Instinctively leaning forwards, I talk to the glass and the spirit trapped within. “It is nice to meet you.”
The glass gives no reply.
“What is ever the matter, Wendy?” Vicki asks, as if sensing something of the spirit’s feelings that I cannot.
The glass remains still.
“Are there others with you?”
“Who’s with you, Wendy?” Vicki speaks in a tone one might use when talking with a living, little girl. “Are there other souls with you?”
B … A … D
The glass stops in front of me.
“There are bad people with you, Wendy?” Kate asks. “Are they stopping you from finding the light?”
“Who is it then, Wendy?”
B … A … D
Again, instead of stopping in the centre, the glass stops before me.
“I think she wants you to ask the questions, Solomon,” Kate says. “Wendy must like you.”
The forcefulness of the glass’ movement shocks me.
B … A … D
The glass swings back towards me. I look on, confused, not sure what the spirit is trying to say.
“Solomon is bad?” Kate asks.
“No, he’s nice,” Vicki says. “He’s my boyfriend.”
B … A … D
Seeing my distress, Vicki says, “Are you being naughty again, Wendy?”
Kate intervenes. “We warned you what would happen if you ever misbehaved again, didn’t we?”
“We told you that you would have to say goodbye. Now, say goodbye.”
“She can get like this, sometimes,” Kate explains, before again ordering softly, “Say goodbye, Wendy.”
The glass oscillates.
“Say goodbye,” Vicki coaxes, “and we’ll promise to come back tomorrow.”
The glass accelerates, moves erratically.
B … R … K … G … L … S
“You are making no sense, Wendy,” Kate says. “Slow down.”
N … L … G … H … T
Hardly able to keep our fingers on the glass, we find it difficult to move with it. Kate, nervous, says, “She’s angry.”
H … E … H … E … E … R
The glass slides towards me, back to the centre, then stops—the force controlling it gone. Our breaths, not the heavy scrape of glass against wood, deafens me. “Has she left?”
“No,” Kate says. “Spirits have to say goodbye before they are properly gone. Dangerous otherwise, especially if you turn the glass upright.”
I look at the glass, mesmerized by its stillness, and wait for Wendy to speak.
“Making trouble, again?” Kate says. “We know you are there, Wendy. How can we help if you hide and make trouble?”
We wait, our three forefingers lightly pressed on the glass’ bottom. The spirit’s silence stiffens my muscles, parches my mouth.
Concentrating, Kate says calmly, “I know you are there, Wendy. Be a good girl and say goodbye.”
The glass circles the centre of the makeshift Ouija board, but does not venture to spell anything.
“Say goodbye, Wendy,” Vicki says. Then both girls look to me.
As I am expected to, I say, “Say goodbye. Say goodbye, Wendy.”
B … A … D … M … A … N
The glass circles. The glass does not stop.
“Solomon is not a bad man,” Vicki defends. “Leave him alone.”
B … A … D … M … A … N …H … E … E … R
Wendy gives no pause between words, but the girls quickly decipher Wendy’s message.
“Bad man here? Who is there?” Vicki asks. “Is someone there with you?”
YES … NO … YES … NO
“Wendy? What’s going on?”
B … A … D
The glass rushes towards me again, before rebounding to the board’s centre.
T … R … U … B … L … E
“She means trouble,” Vicki says, intensely.
Kate replies, “Yes, Wendy does mean trouble, to cause trouble. We have to get rid of her. I’ll call Asim. He’ll know what to do.”
B … A … D … M … A … N
The glass halts before me.
H … E … L … P … M … E
“Help you?” I ask, glancing from the glass to Vicki.
“Why should we? You think I am a bad man.”
L … I … E … B … A … D … M … A … N … H … E … E … R
“Say goodbye, Wendy,” Kate insists. “Asim, if you can hear me, make Wendy say goodbye.Hhhfkdskf”
The glass moves violently, the sound of its movements scraping across my mind. Back tense, I sit hunched over the circle of letters like a gargoyle playing scrabble. Taking control, I say, “Who is this bad man?”
“Who is it? There’s no one, is there?”
“No? So there is no one there?”
“So you can find the light?”
“What are you doing, Solomon?” Kate asks. “Don’t encourage her. She’s just playing games.”
“But isn’t Wendy supposed to be lost?” I say. “Kate, maybe some spirit is really stopping her finding the light? Maybe we should communicate with whomever it is, and help them find the light?”
The glass glides across the Ouija board to spell:
H … E … L … L … O
The whole Ouija experience suddenly feels very different. Any lingering doubts about spirits, the Ouija board, or Wendy, fade. “Hello. I am Solomon. Who are you?”
The reply ends.
L … U
I wait for the rest of the name, but the glass circles the board’s centre. “Your name is Lu? Lou? Or are those your initials?”
Something doesn’t feel right. The girl’s seem to sense the same eeriness too. Pale, drawn, they look like ghosts as I ask, “Why are you stopping Wendy entering the light?”
“Is it because you are a bad man?”
B … A … D
M … A … N
The glass glides smoothly, gently bouncing off each letter, rather than ricocheting around the board. This spirit seems calm compared to Wendy’s erraticism. “Who are you?”
D … R … E … A … M
“You are a dream?”
D … R … E … A … M … I … N … G
“You are dreaming?”
W … E … N … D … Y
“You dream about Wendy?”
“I don’t understand. Are you saying Wendy is a dream?”
F … U … C … K
Anger wells. “She’s just a child!”
L … A … D … Y
“Leave her alone. Let Wendy enter the light.”
M … Y
L … A … D … Y
L … I … E
“Who are you,” Vicki asks. “Were you a bad man in life?”
A … M
G … O … O … D
B … R … I … G … H … T
L … I … G … H … T
“You are not good,” Kate says, tilting her head and straining to hear. Fixing her unemotional eyes on me, she whispers as if to conceal her words from the spirit. “I can hear Asim. He cannot see this spirit, but senses it is a very bad spirit. Wendy must be near a gate to … no, in Hell.”
The glass oscillates quickly, focusing our attention on it as a familiar message spells out:
B … A … D … M … A … N
Again, the lost soul communicates. “Wendy?”
B … R … K … G … L … A … S
“There!” Vicki, her ashen face taut, cries. Staring at a corner of the room, she lifts her finger from the glass and points.
“What is it?”
Trembling, she says again, “There! You must see it?”
I sweep fear aside and hold Vicki close. She peeks out from behind the shield of my arms. With our fingers still on the glass, I implore the empty corner to, “Leave her alone.”
“Asim says the spirit is breaking out of the glass,” Kate warns. “It’s hiding in the corner.”
“Solomon?” Tears stream down Vicki’s face as she looks to me with desperate eyes.
“It’s trying to get into Vicki’s—no, all our heads,” Kate says.
The glass gracefully slides to:
Squinting while cocking her head, Kate listens to her spirit guide’s disembodied voice and says, “We must pray. We need Jesus. Asim says he can’t help; no one can, but Jesus Christ. And you must lead the prayer, Solomon. Asim says you are a bright light.”
“Pray, Solomon,” Kate hisses.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Slowly, almost languidly, the glass moves. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.”
“For ever and ever.”
The glass stops the moment I finish the Lord’s Prayer. The three of us look to one another for reassurance. Both girls, breathing hard and ghost-white in their fright, shake. I glance at the corner as the glass moves erratically.
I … W … A … N … T … Y … U
The speed of the glass can only mean one thing—Wendy.
M … Y
L … A … D … Y
Slow and smooth—the Bad Man’s part of the duet.
K … I … S … S … Y … U
W …. I … T … C … H
K … I … S … S
“What’s happening?” I say, confused by the two entities weaving in and out of the glass. I strain to make sense of each presence as the glass rushes towards me.
W … E … N … D … Y … F … U … K … S … O … L
A woman’s image flashes before my mind’s eye. Honey-blonde and busty, lips parted, she looks on me with lascivious intent. Hardly able to see out of my head and into the room, I whisper, “Jesus … Jesus save me.”
The woman’s—Wendy’s—eyes reflect my rising desire for sexual satiation. I need her lips and hips pressed against mine.
“Solomon?” Vicki says.
Pushing the sinful image of Wendy from my mind, I look at Vicki guiltily. “Jesus, help us. Protect us from these evil spirits. Make them say goodbye.”
B … R … E … A … K
G … L … A … S … S
The glass glides to a halt as Vicki and Kate look at the corner of the room. Following their gaze, I see nothing.
“It hurts!” Vicki screams.
“It hurts!” Kate parrots Vicki. Bringing her free hand to her head, the fat girl bursts into tears. “Lucifer is trying to get inside my head.”
I look at the corner. I see nothing, but fear that nothing all the same. “In Jesus’ name, return to the glass!”
“Jesus, aid us.”
“Jesus, draw this evil back into the spirit world.”
“No, no don’t,” Kate mumbles, shaking her head.
“Solomon, stop!” The glass moves forcefully as Kate cries, “It’s a trick.”
“No, Jesus. For God’s sake, what have we done?” Kate weeps.
“Asim says they’ll trap him.”
“They’ll trap Jesus.”
The glass moves calmly, confidently.
St Matthew’s Church looks out across a sea of corrugated roofs, tall chimneys and crumbling brick. High-rise flats punctuate the hazy, polluted landscape, some so close I can see washing on lines that span railed balconies. Below, on a path bordered by grass, people walk dogs, push babes in pushchairs, or carry shopping home. Who are these people? Which of them serve Lucifer? Does that old man clad in a cloth cap fake his limp?
A man, dressed in black leather, halts on the path below. By shielding the match used to light a cigarette with a hand, he obscures his face while looking directly at me. After casting aside the match, the man continues on, knowing that I watch his every move. Without looking back, he greets a mother pushing a toddler with a nod, who returns a smile. A secret communication between Watchers? Did she just glance my way?
Shopkeepers, librarians, nurses, everyone, everywhere, waiting, watching. Even servants of God cannot be trusted. I should have known better than to call that priest last night. How stupid to have almost believed him when he said, “Just stay off the Ouija board. It’s late, get some sleep. Don’t go back on the Ouija board and everything will be all right.” Just the sort of lie Asim warned a Watcher would say.
St Matthews’ bells mark midday. I turn to Kate, who sits in trance on a bench, face rigid plastic, eyes vacant. Her waxy complexion accentuates her Victorian-doll appearance, and she seems so out of place beneath the granite walls of this medieval church. Approaching, I say, “Is it time? Is Asim protecting us?”
Without looking at me, she says, “God is with us. He will cloak us from the eyes of Watchers, and help us battle the Shadows of Lucifer.”
“Let’s get Vicki and save Jesus.”
Together we walk beneath an arch that separates moss-covered gravestones at the church’s rear, and the well-kept gardens at its front. Steps lead down the hill to a busy road, where I press the button of a pedestrian crossing. The lights refuse to turn red. Again, I press the button, as a shadowy face stares from a passing car window. Black smoke billows from the car’s exhaust as it accelerates away.
Kate steps off the curb. “No, wait Kate, no,” I say with a gentle touch that holds the obese girl back. Then, as an old woman wearing a bright-green woolly hat slows her Morris Minor, Kate nods to her in thanks. “She serves God. I knew what I was doing.”
More steps lead down to a shanty town of tarpaulin stretched over scaffold, where traders sell fruit and vegetables, cheap toys, and other goods. Haggard people wearing cheap, unfashionable clothes, shuffle along with tired eyes, searching stalls for bargains to fill their sorry lives. A crackling tannoy deafens with the promise of the finest cut meats, as we breach the market’s throng and pass a mobile butcher on our way towards a nearby soup kitchen. Cacophonous chatter drowns out the booming butcher’s voice after we push through the soup kitchen’s doors. Immediately, I see Vicki, standing behind a cauldron of steaming broth.
While waiting for Vicki to finish, the poor wait in line. Among them hide the Watchers, spies in disguise. Who is who? Is the gaunt guy with a disfiguring facial birthmark one of them? Why does he keep looking over at me? Why does that pregnant woman, brooding and mean, with a scruffy child clinging to her? Is Asim not hiding us? Will God not cloak us as we seek to rescue Jesus? I glance to Kate for reassurance. She just stands there, a mannequin with a faraway gaze, in silent communion with our spirit guide.
A thin, long-limbed volunteer soon relieves Vicki. As Vicki heads off to remove her apron, I study her replacement. Though small breasted, her honey-blonde hair still evokes images of Wendy. And as she looks up and smiles at an old, battered tramp, my snake swells, presses against rough denim. How can the Watchers not see such sin bulging in my jeans? Closing my eyes, I shut out temptation.
When Vicki joins us, we kiss. I hear fear in her rapid heartbeats as I catch Kate staring at us. Wearing a plastic grin, she asks, “Ready?”
Vicki nods. “Yeah.”
I lead us out into the throng that snakes among the market stalls. There, eyes swarm. I tell myself these people are just browsing handbags, toys, clothing and other market wares; they are only listening to the mobile butcher’s patter over the tannoy, as he sells the lamb joint held up by his assistant. Or do they secretly speak with one another, this web of eyes that searches but never sees? All eyes look through me, a man of glass, cursed by glass to rescue Jesus, trapped by a glass.
It takes a while for us to reach the bus station, where we catch the 392. After buying return tickets, we sit on the bus’ back seat and travel in silence. At every stop, old people with canvas shopping trolleys disembark, while teenagers, brimming with excited chatter, embark. The driver repeatedly checks the periscope mirror that reflects the upper floor, where the kids gather. She shakes her head on seeing the rabble’s antics.
During the journey I think of the Shadows of Lucifer, and wonder if the girls do the same. If they do, they say nothing about Lucifer’s warriors, about nothing at all. They just look into empty space, expressionless, and make the stops and starts through the urban sprawl seem endless. Then suddenly Kate stands up and we disembark. The bus pulls away and noisily climbs a bridge.
We follow Kate down railed steps until cold, dank air enwraps us. After walking beneath the bridge that spans a canal, we head along a towpath. The path, baked dry until cracked by the summer heatwave, then made slippery by heavy rains, forces Vicki to cling onto me. Kate, sure-footed in her Dock Martin boots, leads the way.
During the trudge, the hawthorn bushes that border the canal claw at our coats with spiny fingers. Above, a canopy of twisted tree branches made naked by leaf fall, grapples with the light and casts a pall over us. The canal’s dark, silent water, reflects the trees’ spindly fingers.
Beyond the broken hedgerow, metal palings vainly protect warehouses from graffiti. Unreadable text, tags, and works of art brighten and disfigure their pale brickwork. Further on, the warehouses grade into the soot-stained edifices of the industrial revolution. The bleak factories loom, and their broken latticed windows watch us pass by.
Beyond the factories, in a barren landscape composed of hedgerows and empty fields, we stop before a style.
“Asim says that Wendy made her pact with Lucifer, here.” Kate, ghastly white, breathes with difficulty as she gestures to an open field. “This is where we will be tested.”
“And the Shadows of Lucifer?”
Vicki, cheeks pinched rosy by the cold, appears delicate, vulnerable as she nods.
“Lucifer’s light casts its shadows, Solomon,” Kate says. “And the Shadows of Lucifer will try to stop us closing the gateway that Wendy opened when pledging herself to the Wicked One. We must close the portal to free Jesus. Are you ready?”
“I am ready.”
“Are you sure, Solomon?” Vicki wraps her delicate fingers around mine, draws my hand to her heart, and says, “Doubters and unbelievers cannot see the Shadows of Lucifer.”
“I do not doubt,” I say. “Vicki, I have listened to Asim, and have learned to open my prophet’s eye and project my soul. We, the three of us, can do this.”
Beyond the stile my boot meets reddish, stony soil, striped with furrows. Crows dance in the field’s centre as I help each girl over the stile. We three face the field’s centre, and wait until …
“There!” Kate cries. “The portal is opening.”
“I see it,” Vicki says as she looks at a patch of air above the murder of crows.”
Kate extends her left hand, then places the palm of her right hand behind it. Vicki also pushes her open palm against the air when Kate orders, “Vicki, channel holy light and help me destroy the portal.”
I stand there, not knowing what to do, seeing nothing except the crows.
“Solomon, we need you,” Kate says. “The Shadows of Lucifer are coming through the portal. We’ll try to close it while you fight them.”
“Open your prophet’s eye as Asim taught you,” Kate hisses. “Can you not see Lucifer’s warriors jumping from the portal of Hell?”
I look. Nothing. Then, focusing on the area behind the centre of my brow, I try to open my prophet’s eye. I see it—a twisting mass of translucent energy that coils into itself. The portal vibrates as beams of brilliant light, cast from the girls’ outstretched palms, pierce it.
“Fight the Shadows of Lucifer!”
The crows take to the air as faceless, shadowy figures cloaked in black drop from the gateway. Then both portal and Shadows of Lucifer disappear. Only the crows remain.
Still, nothing except the crows.
“Believe, and God will reward you a seat in Heaven.”
Wraith warriors, wielding gleaming katanas edged with shadow, again appear. Through my prophet’s eye I project my shimmering soul, and with my sunlight-edged spirit sword, cut a Shadow of Lucifer down. Shrieking, the phantom fades, and I block another before piercing a third. The death cries continue. Time holds its breath.
A Shadow of Lucifer charges the girls to stop them closing the portal with their holy beams. Instantly, I am on him, and with my blade, damn. The other shadows pursue as Kate cries, “God is victorious.”
The gateway to hell collapses in on itself. I face the remaining cloaked fiends, and slay.
The three of us, eyes closed, sit around the Ouija board and the upturned glass that once imprisoned Jesus. With long, artistic fingers held in one hand, and oily, stubby fingers in the other, I look through my prophet’s eye. Before me stands a stout man with a blond beard and hard eyes, who speaks through Kate. “You have served us well. Our Lord Jesus is safe amongst us again, and because of your courage, the war against Lucifer is not lost. The Brotherhood of the Son salutes you.”
“It was my honour,” my reply flows effortlessly from some deeper me.
“I am Asim, head of the Brotherhood. And these warriors behind me are your brothers in arms.”
Ranks of burly warriors stand to attention. The brotherhood’s silver armour shimmers in the sublime, dreamy light of Heaven. Nearby, dressed in ivory gowns, stand Vicki and Kate.
“Though we are few now,” Asim says, “the Brotherhood once were many, and Lucifer was our general. Then Lucifer spoke openly against God’s plan to offer salvation to those he had granted freewill. Many of us were blinded by the brightness of Lucifer’s lies and joined him in the war that followed. Those who stand here resisted Lucifer’s lies, and stood against him.
“After the war, God cast down Lucifer and his followers into The Pit. And the Brotherhood, for their service, he set among the children of Adam, so we could better understand freewill. As mortals we slept in ignorance of our true nature, until God tested us. Those who passed he deemed worthy to rejoin the Brotherhood of the Son. This day, you have been tested.”
Mind reeling, I say, “I was an angel?”
“Each man here once was an angel, until God clipped their wings and graced them with freewill. On Earth, each of us battled against evil and passed the test set by God. Each then willingly chose to rejoin the Brotherhood of the Son. Will you?”
“I will. Yes, I will.”
In my mind’s eye I kneel.
“Do you swear by your life to serve God?”
“I do swear.”
“Do you swear to protect his son, our saviour, Jesus Christ?”
“I do swear.”
“Do you swear to protect Holy Mediums Victoria and Katherine, as they heal and do God’s work on Earth?”
“I do swear.”
“While you remain in mortal form, do you swear to battle the Shadows of Lucifer that enter your world? Will you defend all from Lucifer’s lies?”
“I do swear.”
“And once your soul ascends, will you the Brotherhood and war against the hordes of Hell in Hell itself?”
“This, I do solemnly swear.”
“Then stand, Solomon. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Spread your wings and rejoin the Brotherhood of the Son.”
I stand, clad in silver amour, cloaked by angelic wings. Cheers erupt and the hard faces of the now winged knights soften. Hands, smiles and indistinct words welcome me to the Brotherhood of the Son.
“Go now, Solomon,” Asim says, grinning. “Return and fight the Wicked One and his shadows. For you are one of us.”
Bowing my head in respect, I say, “Thank you.”
“No, we thank you, Solomon. But Katherine grows weary, and our communion must now end. Say goodbye, Solomon, so that she can rest. Say goodbye.”
Elated, I obey. “Goodbye.”
I can no longer feel Vicki’s or Kate’s hand, nor see them. An abyss stretches out before me, within me, and I only hear a far-off voice that asks, “Is there anybody there? We are looking for lost souls. Is there anybody there?”
Frightened, I call back …
H … A … L … L … O