Heaven Fire

by Ben Cross

The lucid stench of crimson ash still nipped at the outskirts of little Cohen's senses as he threw himself out of his bed and onto the hard, unyielding oak wood floor beneath it. Sweat was beading off his face as if to quell the harsh flames that engulfed his entire body just mere moments ago. Shaking from the abrupt and stark change of the overwhelming, agonizing heat to the cool sixty-three degrees of his bedroom. Cohen run's over to the bathroom, being careful not to make a noise past the soft, unsteady tap of his feet as he gradually moves beyond his sister's, and eventually, his parents bedroom. Cohen moves to quietly close and lock the bathroom door behind him, standing still for a moment until he was confident that no one was aware he wasn't still in his bed. Cohen slowly turns the four-point-knob on the sink until there was little more than a steady stream of ice cold water he could catch with the cup of his hand, splashing it onto his still warm face. He stands there for a few moments more, letting the water wash over his skin and drip into the snow white porcelain bowl beneath him. Satisfied with his tempered skin, Cohen reaches out for the pastel blue towel that hung to his right and continued to dry off the rest of the water that refused to be influenced by it's own weight.

"I hate that dream..." Cohen whispers to himself, still struggling to catch his breath.

Cupping some extra water and washing his face one last time, he stands up straight to dry off when his eyes make a soft glance to the mirror in front of him. Instantly his body locks with fear and overwhelming dread, even as the image in the mirror reaches out and overwhelms his consciousness, becoming something similar to a waking dream that was exclusive to him and him alone. Looking around, he was astonished to see that the mint green walls of his bathroom had been replaced by a desolate, burning wasteland that appeared as if it was created for the sole purpose of being locked in a timeless battle, fought by powerful beings and horrible creations until the very earth was torn asunder in the wakes of fire and ash. He was back.

All hope was lost to Cohen as his mind fought for an explanation for how he was stuck in the middle of this cursed battlefield which, until now, was confined to his dreams. For a moment he thought maybe he was still dreaming, until it dawned on him that the smoke in front of his eyes was actually the remnants of the frigid water he used to comfort himself, unraveling into non-existence. As if the very basic components of life were forbidden to this place.

Suddenly he felt a wave of kinetic force knock him to the ground. Now on his chest he quickly rolls over to his back to assess what just hit him, instantly regretting what he saw. Before him, standing on a pair of sickly legs that stretched out into thrice clawed feet, was a grayed out face so undeniably evil that it was wrought with torment and a pure unreserved hatred for anything that drew breath. Arms that couldn't have been more than two sticks wide, doubled with four boney, elongated fingers that were equally equipped with crudely sharpened fingernails had stretched out around Cohen's shoulders, and pinned him to the ground. Cohen was paralyzed. Whether it was by deceptively strong hands that held him down or the horrific display of hatred and hunger, however, Cohen was unsure. All he knew was, although he couldn't explain it, at that moment he was no longer dreaming. Palpable fear pulsed through the very core of his soul as the creature gaped open it's jaws, revealing several pointed teeth ravenously searching for something soft to sink into. A hoarse and desperate cry for help was lodged in Cohen's throat just long enough for the creatures own screams of fortune and feast to ring out, drowning any shred of hope Cohen had left as he lie helpless at the hands of this grotesque creation.

Then suddenly, as abruptly as the screams of the hunt began, they ended. With a brief tenor shrill, the abomination fell off Cohen. It's entire midsection sliced twain as it erupted into an all consuming fire that caused the creature to jerk and writhe in utter silence as it's final throes of death overcame it. Within fractures of the same second as the creature was felled, ruined into ash just a few feet over Cohen's left shoulder, he felt a sharp heave upward and quickly found his feet underneath him. Recovering from the assault and sure devouring of his life moments ago, Cohen hesitantly roused enough courage to look into the eyes of his would-be savior. Doing so, he was shocked to see he was staring back into his own reflection. Once again surrounded by the familiar, and far more comfortable, mint green walls of his bathroom.

Cohen peered into the mirror in front of him one last time, looking for some kind of explanation as to what had just occurred, assuring himself that his imagination had truly gotten the better of him. Just then, not two moments after he started believing his facilitated truth, a face hidden in shadow appeared where his reflection once was. It was the face of a man hardened by battle, each scar that danced and arced across his features spoke of epic victories and devastating tragedies. The shadow said nothing as Cohen reached out to touch the face of this apparition in his mirror, slowly, as if possessed by a wondrous curiosity. Instead, as Cohen's fingers were mere inches from the reflective surface, the man's deep emerald eyes began to spill out. Spreading over and enshrouding every part of themselves with an emerald smoke that wisped in the air around his head. It was in these moments that everything became clear to Cohen.

It was amazing. Somehow, without speaking a word, raising a hand or twitching a nerve, the being in front of him had communicated directly to Cohen's spirit. At first, using waves of confidence and strength to settle the pace of his heart, assuring Cohen that he harbored no ill-will for him. Followed quickly by a paraphrased story played out as emotions of great courage, unfailing honor and an unrelenting resolve that can only come when one knows that what he fights for is of the greatest consequence, and knowing without a doubt that you are on the right side of it all. And finally, an immeasurable clout of duty as the final realizations became clear to Cohen. Cohen heard a powerful, deep, commanding voice in his head, although the lips in the mirror made no movement. The man in front of him had a name. Sariel. It said that it was named rightly so to mean, "Fire of God". It also revealed to Cohen that it was, in fact, not of man's world. That he was a seraphim, a special class of angel, exclusive to the Messiah's court. And finally, that he belonged to Cohen as his Protector. It was his and his alone to safeguard and protect Cohen against foes much stronger than that which he had just slain. And Sariel ushered Cohen into understanding that there was much to be guarded against. Sariel urged Cohen to steel hope and with those final words spoken inside Cohen's spirit, the smoke that possessed the eyes of Sariel whisked out. And with it, Sariel did too. Leaving Cohen alone in his bathroom, still clutching his pastel blue towel in his right hand, with nothing but wonder and more questions.

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