A dull roar. That's all I could hear. Souls. That's all I could see. What was this that I was living? If you could call it “living” at all. I didn't see people, but shadows. I didn't feel life, but death. I didn't feel emotions, but emptiness. I didn't feel... anything. It was all a blur. Clustered together in an array of colors and shapes. The sound, that low roar... it was difficult to make out. My thoughts were focused, not so much on the sound, as they were on the colors. So many people. All different. Some good. Some bad. Some breathing. Some barely breathing. ALL SOULS. It was funny what you could see when you stood in the middle of the Emergency Room. Who survived. Who didn't. Who cried. Who laughed. Who mourned. Who celebrated. Yet, all of them, everyone; A soul. A soul for the taking.
I remembered... almost.... what it was like when I floated in the middle of this cluster myself. Before my life... or should I say; my death... changed forever. It felt like eons ago. I didn't want this. I never asked for it. Why was I not allowed to be like everyone else? “Fate” This was the answer I was given. “Fate” What a bleak and meaningless word to express something no one can truly explain.
I wanted... No! I needed, a change. My vast emptiness had drowned me in a lagoon of unwillingness. In a river of curiosity. In an ocean of questions. Questions, unanswered by the Higher Sources. Questions, that still lingered in the clouds of my emptiness. Why am I? Why do I exist? What's the purpose? When (if at all) would it change?
I had a plan. A plan to subtly replace myself once again into this world of colorful souls. To persuasively introduce myself yet again, to THIS my most intriguing temptation. I believe I am, whom I once was. This, wasn't me. This, is who I was forced to be. Yet, I fought. I disputed this unwanted persona that had been involuntarily cast upon me. One day! One day, I would be who I once was. One
day! This monster would cease to exists.
Bed two. The doctors, the running, the yelling. The focus on bringing her back. It was futile. It was sad to say that she was just a child. A baby. Five years of age. Why did FATE find in necessary to take her? She had yet to even start to live. It was not my choice. I only followed orders. Her soul was lovely, just as a little girl should be. A soft pink. Like a princess. Beautiful.
“Come child.” I extended my hand so that she would take it.
“Where am I going?” she asked. The innocence in her voice was heart breaking. Or would be, if I had a heart.
“I'm taking you to a safe place. Somewhere that you will never feel pain again. You will be happy there, sweet child.”
“Cindy” She said. “My name is Cindy.”
“A beautiful name, for a beautiful girl.” her smile seemed as if it could quite literally light up the room.
“Well Cindy, do you see that very pretty light?”
“Yes.” she said with bright eyes.
“Walk into it. Go on child. Pretty Cindy.”
“But why? Where's mommy and daddy? Why do I have to go?” there they were. The questions that always came up after I had collected them.
“Don't worry, Cindy. Your grandmother is there waiting for you. I promise. Before you know it, mommy and Daddy will be there with you also.” What else was I to say to such a new and delicate creature?
“Okay...” she said, not so convinced that what I was telling her was the truth. She obeyed nonetheless. When she entered, she realized that my words were true and secure. “Grammy!!” she called out with utter happiness.
I turned. The mother, yelling. The father, failing at his attempt to be strong. The doctor, saddened. The confusion. The horrified faces. All of it, ALL too familiar. ALL too real.
Time for my next assignment...
I could see them. I could see through them. They could not see me. They could not hear me. I was invisible to them. My lifelessness simply hovered in the emptiness of it's days. Following orders. Swiftly moving like a shadow in the night. Not seen. Not heard. Not felt.
Inevitably, unwillingly noticed. Noticed only, by those whom had entered into my realm. Into my Principality.
One A.M., darkness, silence. He was depressed. The prescription was strong enough. Strong enough, not to ease his pain, but to rid him of it once and for all. Twenty-five, in his prime, yet blind. Blinded to the people who cared about him, and to the life that could have come; had he held on just a little longer.
These were not my favorite. I despised collecting them and passing them on to eternal darkness. I had no choice. He had made the choice for himself. Leaving me no alternative but to collect him. He should have waited for the Higher Sources to give him relief. Yet, he didn't.
“Peter.” I knew his name well. I'd been watching him for some time.
“What? Who are you? Why are you in my bedroom?” The confusion was the consequence of his own actions.
“I'm here to get you.” A simple notion; I would have thought.
“To get me for what? I should be sleeping.... I.... I took... You shouldn't be here!!” He remembered, however, he thought that something else should have happen. Possibly, he thought that he would be sleeping forever. He was wrong. He looked back, “Oh my God. That's me.... on my God! Oh no! No please... No!” It was too late to plea.
“Come with me, Peter.” I instructed.
“But... th-th-this can't be..... right...” he swallowed hard, it was obvious that he was scared.
“You made your choice. Now follow me.” I had to be cold. I was not allowed to feel. The fear was oppressing him. They'd arrived for him. I truly despised this part. “It's easier if you just go.”
“I don't want to go! I want to stay! I want to sleep!”
“Then you leave them no choice. They will take you.”
They grabbed him. Screaming, crying, fear! Dreadful fear! They dragged him into the utter eternal darkness. I was able to hear his last supplication for help. More fear. I was unable to help him. I was meant to simply follow orders.
Centuries have passed since my life, or my death, was changed forever. I still remember it clearly...
I'd just turned twenty-one years of age. I was during that time called, Amari (meaning, Prince), this being my birth name. I was my father's, fourth wife's, first child. Kamau (meaning, Silent warrior), was my mothers sixth child; only the two of us being male. The rest of my mother's children were female. My father, Afolabi (meaning, Born with high status), was the Tribe Leader, he was allotted six wives. The other men in the tribe were allotted only three. My mother was, Nandi (meaning, Strong willed). I could see her face as if it were just yesterday. She was proud. I was my father's first born son. And, I was the only one whom resembled him the most. Which made me a preferred child in his eyes. This made my mother happy to the point of almost gloating.
My tribe and I were celebrating the twelfth birthday of my littlest brother, Kamau. The tradition called for a tribe wide hunt. This hunt was meant to prove the boy child, a man. The hunt, consisted of only the men in the tribe. The women, stayed behind in preparation for the enormous feast and festivities that would follow the hunt. I was excited. Happy to be able to finally show my little brother the exhilaration of the hunt. It was a rush that had no explanation. Your blood pumping, your heart racing, your will at the brink of losing control. When you hunted – you were a man! Not
just any man, but a “Man of the tribe”
This feeling had purpose. It had meaning. It defined me... Us!
I can not put in to words the elation of the tribe when we unanimously lifted up a cry of triumph, when our prize animal had been slain. It was, right!
I saw it. About fifty feet away. It was glorious. With a shinny golden coat and glowing blade like teeth. If I had to guess; I would say about two hundred pound of pure strength. A lioness. Bewildering, almost. However, not enough that it would cause me fear. My little brother crept up behind me. I motioned swiftly and quietly. Putting one finger over my mouth as to inform him of my instructions. I wanted him to be as quiet as possible. With my hand, I made a motion telling him to wait there. I moved forward carefully. I could feel the stares of my fellow tribes men, looking at me from in between the jungle greenery. I moved forward some more. Slowly lifted my spear, preparing to launch it to the beautiful beast.
A sharp pain hit my back! Agony! Disorientation, confusion, then pain! My spear fell. Hit the ground. The lioness ran off. I look around. I saw Kamau. Shock in his eyes. His hand extended. Positioned as if he had just launched a spear of his own. More agonizing pain. I fell to my knees. Screams surrounded me. Running. More screams. I touched my back. I felt it lodged in the middle of my back. I felt it rip through my ribs and lungs. I gasped for air. I gasped again; harder this time. I heard my name being called from afar.
Nothing now. No air, no movement, no pain. Just nothing... Blackness, darkness, emptiness...
My eye's opened. I was standing. I reached for my back and felt nothing there. I tried to look around and the area was foreign to me. This place was dark and empty. I could feel myself there, but I could not see myself there. I tried looking at my hands, but the darkness was so deep that my eyes failed to adjust to the it. So, I could not make out my own hand in front of me. Or any other part of me, for that matter. I heard something. A wind. A motionless movement, as if something floated in the air. The lights came back on, yet, I still saw nothing.
Nothing except for it. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. Possibly, over six feet tall. A ghost if you will. A white ghost, whom spoke in my language. In my words. It told me that I was chosen. That I would not pass on. That I was meant to linger a midst life and death. I was “The Collector”
“What is 'the collector'?” I asked.
“You would better know it as, 'Azriel Dévas'. The 'Angel of Death'...” the white ghost replied.
“What? Why me?” I could not grasp it. It seemed too surreal. Too unbelievable.
“I told you. You have been chosen. This is your fate.” Coldness in it's voice as well as a small hint of contempt.
Such was the beginning of my existence; or nonexistence, as I prefer to call it.
Gabriel, had been itching for a good fight. It had been many, many years that he'd been planning on proving his point. Of what? Well, only he knew. Many years had past since the Higher Sources broke the news to Gabriel...
The Highest Ground
“It seems that it's time once again to choose a new 'Angel of Death'. Have you made a decision on my proposal, yet, Majesties?” Gabriel's, voice was calm, yet, anxiety hid behind his words.
“Yes. We have.” the function of acting as a Unit defined Them. Therefore, They thought as one, They acted as one and They spoke as one.
“So, what be your choice?”
“You are not yet ready, Gabriel.”
“What? Why? I've served you faithfully since the beginning of time. What is it about these humans that you must grant them all their hearts desires? You allow them freedom of will, yet, they walk all over you. And even still, you bestow unmerited privileges upon them. I deserve this much more then any of them do! None of them deserve a single thing!”
“We've chosen someone already, Gabriel. We believe that he will serve Us well.” proclaimed decision sounding in Their voice.
“Whom? If I may ask?”
“His name is, Amari. Go fetch him. His time has come. Tell him, what his destiny has become.”
“Amari. Well.... As you wish, your Majesties.”
Watching as he walked away, His thought intertwined with Hers, “It seems that Gabriel is not very pleased with our decision.” to which They both agreed, “We fear that things are going to be difficult for our new, Azriel Dévas... We must keep watch.”
I had been watching an older lady in the ICU. Lourdes. She'd been here for weeks. Heart disease. What an odd family she had, though. I don't really think I'd ever seen anything like them before. Most families I have come across, either hated or loved each other. No in between. These people were different. It seems as though they loved and hated each other. Lourdes, however, was the grandmother. Her soul was a brilliant yellow. It was quite impressive. A mother and a teacher.
I could see that she was genuinely loved and respected by them all. That much was obvious... To anyone. I can't say for sure why I'd been so intrigued by her and her family. It's almost like I'd been magnetized by the humor and the drama a midst them. Their souls were also quite interesting. They were all pure in their own way. All bright in color.
The grandson, I recall her having called him Frankie; he was blue. I can see and understand why. He was very outspoken, open & honest; yet quite the clown from the look of it. A jester and a judge.
The daughter-in-law, Maria, she was red. Outspoken as well, yet dramatic and overly sensitive at times. It was very clear, however, that her heart was in the right place. She meant well. A strong rock and a frail feather.
The son, Fransisco, he was green. Which explained his quiet personality. His happy demeanor and his pensive mind. He was definitely a thinker, that only used his observation upon utter necessity. A mentor and a peacemaker.
Fransisco's sister, Jesenia, she was purple. I can see that she thought of herself as the glue that held the family together. She was the protector who stood in her self given right to keep this family from falling apart. A warrior and a guide.
I had heard the mention of a granddaughter. Sophia, I believed was the name. I had yet to see her. I was looking forward to it. She must be like the others as well, I thought. Some sort of bright color. Possibly yellow, like the grandmother. Or red, like Maria. It would really interest me to see her.
I was sure, nonetheless, that when the time had come and I had collected her; Lourdes. A piece of their puzzle would be lost forever. I wondered, if they would make it. I wondered if this family would see themselves through the blackness of loss, and the desolation of mourning. What would become of them? Would the hatred win or would the love overcome?
“Soon...”, I thought, “We will all know.”...