Monday, October 12, 2009

No Angel

Jonathan Stewart is a guardian angel with a bit of an attitude. He never wanted to be a guardian angel, and is not at all happy about it, until his "client", Celeste Knight, touches his heart and mind and changes his negative feelings about earth forever.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Been There

“Most arrivers fulfill their post-earth missions a lot sooner, Jonathan.”
Jonathan did not blink. Arrivers? Ah, yes, he had been called that long ago, when he returned from earth. His head ached and he rubbed his forehead with his thumb and fingers.
“Guardians Unlimited has had your stats on file for a long time.”
Jonathan already knew that. He had taken great care to inform anyone who looked at his file to have a clear understanding of his lack of desire to go back to earth as a guardian, after all the facilitator had said to be totally honest. He had expected that no one would ever choose him. He glanced over at Celeste who quietly studied him.
“I, uh, …” he stammered. Once chosen, he knew there was no way out of it. He knew that it was not only expected of him, but required. The only comfort to him was that in his interview those many years ago, he had requested a … he looked up at Celeste, surprised. He had specifically requested a client with an early marked death. He sighed with relief, okay, that’s right—she wouldn’t last long on earth, which meant that neither would he.

Departers and Arrivers

Jonathan looked down at the leather–bond manual with the words, 'Celeste Robin Knight' embossed in gold.
“She’ll be an infant for awhile, and won’t do much but sleep. Read through this during those times.”
Jonathan thumbed through it, knowing pretty much that he wouldn’t need it. How difficult could it be watching a baby girl, especially one marked for early death? He slipped it into his shirt pocket.
“You’ll get there a few seconds before she arrives. Make sure she sees you.”
Jonathan raised one eyebrow, “Sees me, sir?” Clients didn’t see their guardians. He was sure of it.
“Yes, Jonathan—sees you. Celeste is a rather special child.”
“She can see me?” Jonathan grimaced. Did that mean he’d actually have to … communicate with her? The thought horrified him.
“Just during certain times,” Saunders said, adjusting his tie.
A cold wave of energy rushed up the sides of Jonathan’s body. He felt dizzy, and looked down to see his feet and then his legs, wavering as if they were submerged in a pool of water. During certain times, he thought? Now more than ever he was glad to have had the good sense to request an early marked death. What else could they possibly expect of him? He shuddered as his torso and finally his head flickered and then vanished as all at once he whisked down a tight tunnel to some heaven-forsaken destination on earth.

A New Home

Well at least he could have some peace for the remainder of the flight. Which, he glanced down at his standard issued white-banded watch, was half over. It would have been just fine too, except that Markus started to chuckle, low at first and then louder with each chortle. Jonathan turned his back to him, but a minute later Markus started laughing out loud. Jonathan snapped around, “Will you just cut it out!”
Markus looked at him surprised, “Oh, sorry.” He returned to reading, but momentarily started chuckling again. He nudged Jonathan in the ribs, “Ho, ho! If my client retains any of her pre-earth misfortune, she’s in for a lot of random disasters!”
Jonathan grabbed the manual out of his hand and Markus’s face went as white as its leather cover.
“You can’t do that!” Markus yelled.
“Do what? Shut you up?” Oh yes he could, and it appeared as if he had.
“Jonathan, I can’t take it back from you! And if you don’t give it back to me quickly, you won’t be able to!” Markus was fading to nothing right before Jonathan’s eyes.
Jonathan’s eyes widened and he threw the manual back on Markus’ lap. Markus’ image wavered and then slowly reappeared. Jonathan sat still and faced forward. What just happened? He glanced over at Markus who was breathing heavily. “Are you okay?” Jonathan asked. “I … I didn’t mean to … whatever I did ….”
Markus’ breathing returned to normal. He grabbed the manual and slipped it into his pocket. “A Guardian’s Rite … a Guardian’s Rite …” he mumbled.
Jonathan shook his head, “A guardian has rights?”
“No ... rite … duty and honor …”
“It’s a clause imbedded in our contracts. Didn’t you read it?” He looked at Jonathan incredulously.
“Well … um, I guess I must have skipped over that part.”
Markus turned in his seat and faced him. “Jonathan, you never, I mean NEVER take another guardian’s client’s manual!”
“Because it means that you are placing a writ of grievance on that guardian!”

Heavenly History

The words; Marked for Early Death still showed on the inside cover, but as soon as Jonathan ran his finger over it, they disappeared and a menu popped up asking for a guardian passage code before going blank. Jonathan tapped it, and the menu reappeared but when no passage code was given, it went blank again. He glanced over at Markus who had converted his screen to a mini-hologramic display: a young woman of about 20 walking down a path reading a book. She was a pretty girl, but from where he was sitting, Jonathan didn’t think she’d win any beauty contests.

Fallen Angels

There is a darker side to this story, for just as God sends guardian angels to guide and protect, the devil sends his fiends to captivate and destroy, but remember dear reader that in all the annuls of history, whether recorded or not, good always triumphs over evil. Eventually.

Death Resistor

They pulled down a tree-lined driveway and stopped in front of an older, three-story Victorian house. “Isn’t it lovely?” Grace removed the bands from their wrists and lowered the partition.
Jonathan stared at it. Lovely was hardly his choice of words. It was more like decrepit, dilapidated, and rundown, which would describe any abode when compared to heaven. He slipped down the sides of the car and stepped aside as Rose removed Faith from the car seat. Grace followed Rose and Faith onto the front porch and turned, motioning for Jonathan to follow, but before he got to the top of the steps, she raised her hand and commanded him to stop in an angry tone. “What?” he asked surprised.
“No, not you, silly!” she said, waving him forward. “Them.” She pointed behind Jonathan.
The hair pricked on the back of his neck as he bounded up the steps beside her and turned around. The driveway was overflowing with sheydims, all wearing the same dull outfit, and all looking mighty unpleasant.

Silent Vigil

Jonathan remained in front of the hospital crib, sometimes leaning against the bars and looking down at her, and other times standing with his legs spread apart, while studying her sleeping parents, and Grace and Steven who still talked quietly in the corner. He was staring down at Faith and wondering why she had chosen him, when Rose stepped straight through him to Faith. He fell back, his stomach nauseous. There weren’t too many things more repulsive than seeing the insides of a mortal flash past your eyes.

Crossing Over

Time passes with each changing of the night to day and winter to spring, and before Jonathan knew it, six years had passed, much too quickly, like early dew on a summer morning. Faith was almost eight. A few weeks before her birthday, she began to notice Jonathan less and less, and a few days before she turned eight, she stopped seeing him all together.
Jonathan was surprised how it made him feel. He had anxiously waited for her to leave him alone, but when it finally happened, he felt sad. He followed her around a bit doleful, like a dog without a master.

Finding Faith

He typed in screen 4307-PPU and the colors on the small monitor mellowed into deep shades of tranquil blues with the words ‘the peace that passeth understanding’ rolling onto the screen like waves washing up on a distant shore. It was so serene that Jonathan almost fell asleep staring at it. Nonsense, I have too much work to do. He shook his head and sat up, double-clicking the screen.
Guardian angels assist God in bringing peace to his children on
earth. Their purpose is to give comfort and inspiration. Most
encounters between the guardian and client are elicited through
quiet whisperings and gentle promptings with minor levels of
intensity, however on rare occasions, in the case of severe
need, the guardian may make themselves visually known, but only
if that guardian has received a directive from God himself.


He spent the rest of the night studying Faith’s manual. He was amazed, and intimidated. He leaned his head back against the wall. “I should have read this a long time ago,” he mumbled.
“Oh I quite agree,” said Grace, looking down at him.
He moaned. “Are you aware of the number of screens involved in just PPU?” He pointed to the screens in reference to the Peace that Passeth Understanding—the peace that comes from guardian assistance.
She put her chin in her hand, and glanced up at the ceiling, “Two-hundred and ten?”
How did she know that? He looked at her irritated.
“Oh lighten up, Jonathan. You still have today.”
He shook his head and showed her Heavenly Accounts, where Faith’s actual birthday was recorded.

The Guardian Joust

Jonathan stepped back surprised, a contest with Faith as the reward? He could see the taunting in Credent’s dark eyes as he hissed, “We’ll see who she chooses first, gangel.”
Jonathan lunged towards Credent but Grace stepped in the way.
“Aw, come on Gracey, let the newby try,” said Credent, pulling his fingers forward in a come-hither gesture. “I promise not to break all of his bones, only a couple of them.”
Grace held her hand against Jonathan’s chest restraining him, “Jonathan, cut it out! If you attack him first, he has the right to fight back. And he doesn’t play nice.”


Credent rolled his eyes. He turned towards the corn field behind them. It was late October and the corn field was covered with stubby stalks from the summer’s harvest. A cool breeze sporadically whisked brown leaves into the air. Dusk had fallen and the new moon not quite risen to light the empty fields, but you could see them if you looked closely. Hundreds of pale eyes staring back between the stalks. They were the unchosens—those not claimed by either side, too bad to be good, and too dull to be of much use. Credent glided into their territory and all but three cowered away from him.

The Unmortals

He ran hard. The monstrous growling and slashing was almost upon him. He tried jumping up the side of the smooth wall but it was still too high for him, and he slipped down its slick sides. Another foot lower—the wall needed to be only one foot lower and he might be able to swing his body up on top. He ran blindly into the mist, skimming his fingers against the top edge of the wall, when all of a sudden, a piercing wail filled the mist in front of him, and his heart sunk as he realized that he was now surrounded on both sides.
His only escape lay away from the protective root. The only logical thing to do was to run with all his might into the deathly mist. There was no time to wait! He bounded forward, but then stopped short, toppling back against the wall. A host of ghostly yellow eyes, wickedly sharp and horrifying as death approached him from all three sides. There was no escape.

The Root

Had they ever been mortal? He wondered, as he stared at the Vago’s human-like physiques—arms, legs, faces; human like, but not human. In all his travails on earth, he had never seen anyone so ghastly, and yet it wasn’t their thin, wraith-like bodies that frightened him most. It was their eyes. Eyes much like mortals, each baring the owner’s mark of demeanor, some vicious and nasty, others sharp and cunning, some vacant and aloof, but none friendly, and all fiendish. Had they once been mortal and failed life so veraciously to become damned in this heaven-forsaken place, or were they the unmortals—those who never had, and never would have a mortal body?

The Half-Sun

A jumble of thoughts crammed into his mind as he jumped up fixing his eyes on the water pooling at his feet. The water tunnel, had it been real? No, he shook his head and grimaced. “It couldn’t be!” He ran his fingers through his wet hair, but what other explanation could there be? He swiped the water off his arms and bare chest. His eyes squinted. “Did that tunnel lead to the surface? No, it was impossible!” He scowled, remembering that he had floated from the tunnel down to the root. He was sure he wouldn’t be able to float his way back up again, and anyhow, he was clientsep, and pretty sure that getting back to his client wouldn’t be as simple as floating.

Strange Happenings

An odd carving of an opened eye glowed above one the exits. Jonathan grabbed her by the arm. “Come on Grace! This may be our chance to get out of here!”
“Get out of here? I just got in here!” Grace stumbled forward, her eyes still fixed on the light.
Jonathan grasped the stick and pulled it down and waited, expecting that at any moment they would be violently sucked through it, but nothing happened. The door just appeared and opened and they stared into a spacious field that stretched out deep and wide. His eyebrows furrowed. What purpose could a grassy meadow serve? A sweet-smelling breeze lured him forward. He felt an overwhelming desire to fall face first into the field, into the strange grain that pulsated with the wind. He shook his head as if shaking off an annoying gnat. Nonsense, he thought, stepping back from the door and pulling Grace with him. The door disappeared. He glanced above the stick and found the eye closed. What did that mean? His eyebrows knit together, as he followed Grace's gaze to the trim.

Dangerous Affiliations

The human cowered in a corner of a large cage, his arms wrapped tight around his legs. The angry crowd threw currents like daggers at him, though none appeared to reach his side. A raucous laugh gurgled from one of the female Unhumans, the one with the tight braids. “See how we still enjoy him? Even after all this time?” The crowd clapped in approval. Grace’s fingernails dug into Jonathan’s waist. He pried them back, but still held her tight. Who was this mortal?

Different Perspective

When he woke, he was covered in a thick blanket of beetles crawling over him as if he were part of their monotonous path. Their wiry legs clicked against the cloak sounding much like a hail storm. Jonathan was repulsed by the sound, but this time did not call out. He stood, and swept them from the cloak. Disgusting, he thought, flicking the last one off. He stared at the unblocked light. How near could he get to it before the beast returned? And where would he go from there? He looked back the way that he had come. It was too dark to see, but he knew that the root, and safety from this horrid place lay beyond it. Still, he could not bring himself to take a single step towards it.


The photo was taken of Jonathan one month before his eleventh birthday. Uncle Theo had taken it. He was the local photographer. Jonathan remembered standing still behind the chair, trying to look regal, like his dad, straight and tall. Theo threw the cloth over his shoulders and squeezed the bulb freezing Jonathan’s image in time forever. His hair was slicked over to the side and his face looked kind of squirrely, and Jonathan couldn’t believe that he was looking into the gray eyes of the boy he tried so hard to forget.


He stopped short, and his heart wrenched from his chest. He couldn’t believe what he saw—it couldn’t be! And yet it was—a hearse was parked in the driveway, and a small group of people dressed in black were sitting in white chairs in the back yard. He stumbled forward not wanting to know, not wanting to find out.


He instinctively closed his eyes while his body was transported through space at lightning speed, and when he opened them he was expecting to see Grace and Lucas, but he did not. He was not at the root at all, but in front of his childhood home on Pepper St. He shook his head, what?


He was at once transported back to the far corner of the root. Lucas and Grace were floating up against the lowered ceiling prying at its corners. “I’m sure this comes down somehow.” Grace’s voice sounded like a touch of heaven to him, but he did not want to startle her. He remembered the plummeting thing quite well. He sat down in the corner and waited.

The Guardian Duel

They were drawn through a kaleidoscope of shimmering colors that felt like a cool wind against their skin on a warm day. The air that swept past their faces tasted salty and sweet at the same time, and when the creamy colors stopped gyrating, the sound of waves lapping rhythmically against the Atlantic shoreline soothed and relaxed their anxiety, a perfect landing, except for the over-crowded beach. A beach ball whizzed through Jonathan’s head—that jarred him back to his senses. “Welcome back to the real world,” he mumbled, stepping over a lady sprawled out on a big towel.

A Guardian's Rite

“We could swim,” Grace swept her hand out over the ocean’s choppy waves.
“Or take a cruise.” Jonathan pointed to a cruise ship docked in the bay.
Grace looked up at the sky, “Or we could fly.”
Jonathan grimaced.
“Not in a plane, Jonathan—just fly.” She jumped up into the air and glided over the beach and then came back and lowered herself to the ground.
“Or we could take a cruise,” Jonathan repeated as the ship’s horn sounded.
“Or you could just will yourself there,” a voice said behind them. Jonathan turned and was surprised.


He dared not look into his eyes. There were no words to express the way that he felt. His heart was full of love and thankfulness and it came to him all at once—a peace that passed his understanding. “It’s a gift, isn’t it God?” he asked cautiously as if the words forming in his mouth were just now forming in his head. “A gift from you.” A fleeting sob caught in his throat as all three stages of his existence; premortal, mortal and post mortal, played before him. When it was over, he kept his head bowed in reverence to the Immortal Being that stood before him. “I’ll always be grateful for my experiences, even though it took me to the very last second to finally understand their purpose.”
“Tell me Jonathan,” God said, “What is their purpose?”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thank You!

This blog is reserved exclusively for readers's of Marked for Death. Please leave comments and suggestions along with the chapter or page number that you are commenting on. Thanks!