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I stand in the temple alone with the angel. “Excuse me, sir…” I begin.

“Please, call me father,” the being replies. “It is a sign of respect.”

I have to admit, he doesn’t look like any angel I’ve ever seen before. I always thought angels were white guys with curly blond hair that wore white robes and had wings. This guy… doesn’t look like that.

He has the white wings, but that’s where the similarities end. Everything below his head is mechanical. He’s very tall, and his limbs are… too long. And when I say “head”, I mean “giant eyeball”. Yeah, not what I was expecting an angel to look like.

The angel gives me a loving look. “I can tell your heart is full of doubt, my son,” the angel says. “Perhaps I can help you fix that.”

He turns to a stained glass window. “You are probably wondering why I came to your world,” he says.

“You’ve told me many times,” I reply.

“And I shall tell you again,” the angel says. “The religions you and your fellow humans believe in are wrong. I have come to bring you a true faith: one that will bring you all salvation. Listen to me, and you shall go to heaven.”

“Heaven,” I reply dubiously.

“Yes!” the angel says, apparently thinking I was asking him a question. “A truly beautiful place. Full of white clouds and bright light. But you may only go there if you abide by the rules I set for you.”

He folds his arms. “I lived there once. But I left to bring mortals like you religious teachings. To spread the word of our love.”

“Love,” I repeat.

“You don’t know what love is?” the angel asks, turning to me.

“No, I know what it is,” I reply. “But what you did to Clifford yesterday was not love.”

The angel sighs. “Clifford was a heretic, my son. He spread lies about our church. I had to stop him.”

“OUR church?” I ask. “Since when am I on your side?”

“Well, I assumed,” the angel replies. “You never said you weren’t,”

I shake my head. “I could never be on your side, being. I could never condone what you did to Clifford yesterday.”

Clifford’s eyes had been gouged out and all his skin had been ripped off. They’d torn him in half and impaled him on a stake. His sorry remains were still in front of the church as a warning to other dissidents.

The angel glares at me. “I had to set an example! I had to show them what happens to people that don’t believe. Don’t you want to go to heaven? Or do you want a taste of my fury?”

“You still haven’t told me why you invited me here tonight,” I say flatly.

The angel sighs and looks away.

“It is as I said, human. I wanted to assuage the doubt in your heart. To bring me to my side. I could use a man like you. And don’t you want to go to heaven?”

“If it’s full of things like you?” I reply. “No.”

The angel shakes his head.

“I can see you’ll be tough to convert,” he says. “Very well.”

The angel steps up to his altar. He spreads his arms apart.

“Did you know, human, that there are more than just angels in this universe? That there are demons as well? They are horrible creatures. They will burn down your homes and devour your children. They wish to kill me and everyone else that thinks like me. We must rally together to stop them. If you humans want to survive, you must join us angels.”

“Seems to me like you’ve done some killing and burning yourself, angel,” I reply. “The widow Johnson’s house. Those teenagers down at Elm Street.”

“Pagans!” the angel replies. “They wished to turn my flock away from me. I had to stop them. I had to set an example!”

“Widow Johnson only said you didn’t look like an angel,” I tell him. “And all those teenagers did was leave during one of your sermons. I don’t think any of that warranted what you did to them.”

The angel scoffs. “If I didn’t do it, then demons would. You seem too old to be this stupid.”

“Well, you seem pretty old too, but I’d say mutilating the people you want to protect is stupid.”

The angel sighs and looks away.

“Why did you eat Jerry?” I ask.

The angel turns to me, shocked.

“What?” he asks.

“Why did you eat Jerry?” I ask again.

“I didn’t eat Jerry,” the angel insists.

“Lies? From you?” I say. “For shame.”

The angel glares at me, hard. “He was already dead! And you guys just wanted to bury him in a box. I have to eat something now, don’t I?”

“He was one of your guys.”

“I’m sure he would have understood.”

“Mmhmm.”

We both go quiet and stare at each other. The only sounds are water bubbling in the fountain of holy water and fire crackling in the torches.

“So… I suppose you do not wish to join me,” the angel replies.

I shake my head. “You’re just a killer, friend. You say it’s for a good reason, but I think you’re doing it for fun. You want something to lord over. You want to be the man. So you found a species of beings you could bully. And what the hell? Eating us is a fringe benefit.”

“I can give you power,” the angel says.

“What?” I ask.

“I can make you an angel like me,” the angel says, stepping forward. “Of course, I would be your archangel. But we can work together, you and me. We can turn these humans to our side. We can rule together.”

I shake my head. “I’d never want to be the same thing as you. Maybe not all of your kind are bad, but you? You’re a vampire. An alien, sent from the stars to destroy us. To turn us against each other. A brutal murderer with a taste for our flesh. If I joined you, even as a worshiper, I would be betraying my own kind. No chance.”

I turn to leave.

“Then this was a waste of time,” I hear the angel say.

I look over my shoulder. He’s running at me with a sword in his hand. Aghast, I dodge to the side. His sword swing barely misses me.

“What the hell!” I shout. I make a run for the doors, but they slam shut of their own accord. The angel laughs wildly. He comes at me again.

“See you in hell, mortal scum!” he cackles.

Is this the last thing Clifford saw before he died?

The alien thrusts at me. I dive out of the way. He buries his sword in one of the doors.

And the door starts bleeding.

I stare at it, unable to believe my eyes. Is this whole place made of flesh? Is it alive?! It looks like regular stone and wood to me. But then again, I’m standing next to an angel. Reality itself is basically out to lunch at this point.

The angel turns to me and swings his sword again. I dodge. “There’s no escaping this time, fool!” it taunts me.

I walk backwards as he keeps trying to gut me. “Watch your step!” he jeers as we move between two pews. I jump in the air, barely dodging a spike trap. This whole place must be rigged with deadly traps. So that’s what happened to all the people that have gone missing lately.

I back up against a statue. It comes to life and wraps an arm around my throat. “I’m going to enjoy this!” the angel barks.

He tries to run me through. I catch the sword and divert it to my right. It goes into the statue’s leg. The statue howls and falls to its knees, dropping me. I make a run for it.

I wind up in front of the holy water fountain. The angel walks towards me with a chuckle. “Need a drink, pal?” he asks.

He drops his sword, grabs me by the neck, and shoves my face into the fountain. I sputter and cough up water. He pulls me back out and shoves my face in it again. So this is how I’ll die. Drowned in a fountain of holy water. Not how I was expecting to go.

I have an idea. Choking up water, I reach down, cup some of it in my hand, and throw it in the angel’s face.

He screams and clutches his face. I can see smoke coming out from between his fingers. “So holy water burns you, eh, angel?” I shout. “I thought it only worked on demons!”

The angel lunges at me. I grab him and throw him into the fountain. Smoke starts billowing everywhere. He screams and thrashes as his robotic body turns to flesh and melts off his bones. Soon there’s nothing left of him but his skeleton.

I have to destroy this place before his disciples show up. I turn to one of the torches, grab it, and tip it over. Soon the whole temple is going up in smoke. Bright orange flames lick at the walls. The smell of burning flesh lingers in the air.

Suddenly, the angel’s skeleton gets up and jumps out of the fountain. It swipes its claws at me. I kick it in the stomach, knocking it over. Another torch collapses between me and the creature, separating us with a wall of flame.

“No, wait!” the angel insists. “It’s not too late, my son! Come back! I can save your soul! Really!”

I ignore the creature. The roof starts collapsing, putting a wall of rocks between me and the thing. I turn and charge for the doors. I break them down with my shoulder, then run outside just in time. The whole temple collapses, filling the air with the smell of smoke and burning flesh.

I stand outside the destroyed temple. It looks like a heap of stone and burned wood. However, it’s slightly melted, and blood is everywhere. How could the angel have made this place? Did he grow it out of the ground?

I suppose I’ll never know.

“Kevin!” my friend Marie shouts. She throws her arms around my neck. “You’re alive!”

Soon the whole town is gathering around the ruined temple. “I told you not to tangle with that crazy angel,” my other friend Dennis says. “He was bad news from the start.”

Richard chortles. We all turn to him. Ever since the angel arrived, he’d been one of his most devoted followers.

“Don’t think this is over,” Richard says. “You can destroy one temple, but two more will grow in its place. You can’t kill an angel so easily.”

Dennis glares at Richard. “What are you doing here? You’ve got a lot of nerve showing your face after what you guys did to Clifford.”

I ignore Dennis. Was what the angel said about turning other people into angels true? Could Richard be an angel in disguise?

I don’t know. And I would prefer not to.

“Where’s the angel?” Marie asks me, looking troubled.

“Dead,” I reply. “He died in the fire.”

“Are you sure, Kevin?” Richard asks me slyly. “Did you find his body?”

I glare at Richard. “Shut up!” I snap.

But he’s right, of course. I don't know for sure if the angel is dead.

I sure hope he is.

The next day, we clean up the wreckage of the temple. It’s already starting to rot. The whole place is an odd mixture of inorganic and organic material. I don’t know how it works. I don’t think it’s supposed to.

Richard is smug the whole time. “Has anyone found the angel’s skeleton?”

Nobody has.

We try not to dwell on that.

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