Bogren moved through the trash-filled alley with purpose, ignoring the men who slumbered among the cardboard boxes, and who, like the boxes, had long been forgotten. Two beings of light stood near a middle-aged man whose shoulder-length silver hair hung over his eyes. Propped up against a cinder-block wall, tears streamed down his face. Bogren surveyed the scene and then drew the attention of one of the light beings. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.
“He is one of ours.”
“Are you blind? There’s no light in him. He belongs to us.” The demon studied the man’s face. “You’re a loser, Jim. Your father was right. He knew you were a failure. Look at yourself. You’ve failed at everything you’ve ever tried. Why prolong the agony? Nothing is ever going to change, and you know it. You were born a loser, and you’ll die one.”
One of the angels drew near and crouched to look in Jim’s eyes. “Don’t listen to him. You are loved. Your life has a purpose. You’re not a failure. Don’t give up hope. We can help you.”
“He’s right, Jim. Look at how successful you are. You’re on top of the world! Why, everyone loves you, don’t they?” He chuckled. “If you had one potential in life, it was to ruin everything you did. And you certainly made the most of it. Tomorrow is only going to be worse than today. More pain. More misery. More failure.”
Jim rolled up his sleeve, exposing his forearm. He picked up a syringe and aimed the needle at the vein in the bend of his arm. It pierced the skin. A flash of blood appeared in the hub of the needle. He pushed the plunger. Peace swept over his face, momentarily. Bogren smiled proudly. Jim slid to the ground.
The taller angel grabbed Bogren’s arm. “Get away from him!”
“Too late for that,” the demon said, pulling his arm free. Jim’s spirit sat up from his body and looked around.
“Jim, it’s time to leave,” said the angel, “we’re taking you home.”
“You’re not taking him anywhere! He’s going with me!”
“Bogren,” the angel said, smiling, “you always underestimate the power of the light. Look closer. He has it. See for yourself.”
The demon moved closer and examined Jim. “I see only darkness. No light. You’re lying. Come along, Jim.”
“Leave him alone, you filthy wretch! Have you been in the darkness so long that you can’t see the light at all?”
The demon looked again and noticed a faint, pink light bathing the outermost part of Jim’s spirit. A flaming chariot appeared at the far end of the alley, drawn by horses made of tongues of fire. It moved silently toward them, coming to a stop in front of Bogren. The fiery glow of the horses illuminated the drab walls of the buildings that surrounded them. The angels escorted Jim into the carriage, and, as soon as he was inside, it shot off into the heavens.
Bogren cursed them as he moved toward the other end of the alley. He passed spirits, both light and dark, that were engaged in battles over other humans, but he ignored them.
He had an appointment to keep.
This is an excerpt from my latest book, The Gates of Shiloh, available at the links below: