Gestalt Media continued the Short Story Contest in December 2019. Contributors submitted short stories
of 3,000 words or less on the theme Guest. Then, it
was up to readers to vote on the winning submission.
The winner of $50 is Michael Nadeau for his submission entitled Threads of Fate. His story will also appear in the year-end anthology published by Gestalt Media of all short story contest winners.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy this endearing short story by Michael Nadeau.
Threads of Fate
The man walked into the bar, greeted by a sudden silence. He looked around the local dive and grinned, brushing his slick blond hair back out of his brilliant hazel eyes. He was dressed in an Armani suit, complete with silver cuff links and fit in with the crowd like a construction worker at a baby shower. After a few seconds the people started talking once more as he sauntered over to the bar, stepping over a body on the floor. “Bourbon, neat,” the man told the bartender, leaning on the bar with an ease that spoke volumes. He wasn’t afraid of anything here and it showed.
“I think you’re in the wrong place mister,” The bartender said as he poured the man’s drink
The man turned, his stare intense, and the bartender fell back. “I’m looking for a couple of guys that work for the local art gallery,” he said, his penetrating gaze holding the human before him. Not many could look him in the eye and hold that gaze. It was said that you could see your own soul in his eyes.
“They’re over there,” the man said, backing away. “Who are you?”
The man flipped him a coin. “Here, for your troubles.” The coin landed on the bar and spun, never slowing down.
The bartender grabbed it and yelled, dropping the coin. “Why is it hot?” he asked, his voice rising in fear.
The man ignored the question, knowing that in a few minutes the bartender would pick it up anyway. Greed was his favorite sin, and it was so easy to use against these people. He walked over to the table and pulled out a chair. “Good evening gentleman. My name is Natasha,” he said, sitting down as they all stood up. “Oh please,” he started, dropping a wad of cash on the table. As expected, they all sat down, staring at the money in front of him. “That’s better. I have a job for you and it pays well.” He detailed the plan to them, his words making sense even though they would be probably be caught. He had a way with words after all. And if things go right, then all my plans will start to come together. A hint here, a warning there and the children will someday meet, he thought as he stood and left the bar, whistling a merry tune.
Aleksandr Devir rode his Harley down Roanoke Way as the strong gusts blew off of lake Washington. The lingering sunset lent a touch of eerie spectacle to the surrounding landscape and the winds swept his long, raven hair back like a flag in a hurricane. He wasn’t in a hurry; being immortal did have its advantages after all. His god given name was Azrael and he spent his time helping souls that were reluctant to go to heaven. These souls were — more often than not— in almost complete balance, neither good nor evil in life. He was often called the angel of death, a title that really got misconstrued through the centuries. He was one of the seven archangels, and had been here on earth for millennia. He was on his way to the city of New Seattle because of a vision of this particular home here on Mercer Island Retreat.
Pulling over at the house, he shut off the bike, and set the kickstand. He looked around the street and let out a whistle. It was a very nice neighborhood, but then again he had seen them all over the years. People with money have always known how to flaunt it, he thought, getting off the bike. Dressed in ripped jeans, t-shirt, and a leather jacket — not unheard of in Seattle — he was completely out of place in this neighborhood.
“Hi there,” a small voice said from behind him.
Aleksandr turned, his ice blue eyes searching for the origin of the voice, and settled on a small child. The boy had to be at least seven years old and his innocence radiated out from him like a furnace. “Hello to you as well, little one.”
“My mommy says you’re not supposed to ride without a helmet,” the young one admonished, fists on his hips. He had dark skin and very short hair, his eyes like pools of liquid chocolate.
“Well she would be right, in fact my father would be displeased as well,” Aleksandr said, laughing at the little one’s stance. This didn’t seem like the sort of place for a person to die in balance. Maybe the vision was for something else? he asked himself.
“You look like you need a good meal,” the boy said, walking up and grabbing the archangel’s hand, leading him towards the house. “My mom makes the best food. You’ll love it.”
“I’m not sure this is a good idea little one.”
“My name is Simon. What’s yours?” the young boy asked.
“Oh. My name is Aleksandr.” He looked up as he was pulled along, seeing the mother standing at the open door watching them. Not that the boy could’ve pulled him; hell five men couldn’t pull him if he didn’t want them to.
“Now who is this Simon?” the woman asked, not irritated, nor angry in the slightest. “I swear you find the strangest pets.”
“I’m sorry ma’am. He is a spirited little one.” Aleksandr was in a difficult situation. He usually never made contact with the people he interacted with, often using his wings as cover. Angels could walk among the humans, but once their wings came out, it was like the angel disappeared. If they really wanted to show themselves, they had to will it, but that only happened rarely, as their father didn’t approve of it.
“Oh it’s fine,” she said, a broad smile upon her face. “He does this from time to time, were used to it.” She had long black hair and dark eyes, her yellow sun dress a bright contrast to her smooth dark skin.
Nodding, Aleksandr went into the house, worried about what would happen this night that would’ve called him here.
Aleksandr stood in what could only be called a mansion. Whatever this family did for work was clearly one of the higher paying jobs in this world, yet they didn’t over do it. Oh sure there were expensive paintings and such, but the place really was humble. It was the things that only he could see that told the true story. The father was standing near the bottom of the stairs under a cross that, to the archangel’s eyes, was from the holy land itself. Made of Bethlehem wood, the cross radiated to those that could sense it. There were other things, treasures really, that would seem ordinary to most people. What drew his gaze was the book in a glass case, written in the old tongue. He recognized it as one of the first printed.
“You must be my son’s new friend,” the man said as he walked over. “My name is David Rand, and this is my wife Mary. You’ve already met Simon.” He shook Aleksandr’s hand, firmly.
“My name is Aleksandr Devir, so nice to meet you all.”
“You will join us as our guest won’t you?” David asked.
“If it is not too much trouble,” Aleksandr said, taking off his jacket. “Yet, if I may ask, why would you let your son drag a stranger into your house on a whim like this Mr. Rand?”
“Well I have learned to do unto others like you would have them do unto you. If I were lost and hungry, I would want someone to shelter and feed me.”
“You’re assuming I’m lost.”
“Fair, but you didn’t say you weren’t hungry.”
“All right you have me there. Seriously though, in this age, you would take the chance I’m not here to rob you or worse?” He hated to bring it up, but it seemed out of place with the world he was now walking. Fear and prejudice were commonplace, and no one did anything unless it was for themselves.
“In all seriousness Aleksandr, I do it because of this day and age.” He turned and walked over to the book in the glass case, touching the glass reverently. “You see, someone has to make that step to show others that it’s all right. That it’s good to help someone in need. I have a lot of money and now I share it when I can.”
“Is that why you collect holy relics?” Aleksandr asked, gaining a new respect for this human.
“You noticed those? Yes. I’m an art dealer but when these came in, they weren’t authenticated, so I bought them for my personal collection.”
“So you have an eye for things like this?” the archangel asked, getting that feeling in his spine that something else was going on here. What have you dropped me into Father?
Mary’s voice interrupted their conversation momentarily. “Dinner’s ready!”
David walked by Aleksandr, placing his hand on the man’s broad shoulder. “Not me. It’s Simon that has the eye for these things.”
Aleksandr followed David in silence. The boy had the sight. Could he see what I was? he asked himself as he pulled a chair out next to the child.
“Do you want to say grace Simon?” his mother asked as she brought in the last dish and set it down on the table.
Aleksandr saw the boy look at him instead and smiled. “Allow me,” the archangel said, standing and bowing his head in reverence. “Oh Father, bless this family for reaching out to a stranger and inviting him into their home. Bless this food that we break in your name and feast on because of your benevolence. In your name we pray, Amen.”
“Well said man,” David said with an enthusiasm that seemed out of place. “Too long this house has gone without a proper grace.”
“Now dear, let’s not start that again,” Mary said, her tone agitated. She turned to Aleksandr and sighed. “Ever since Simon almost died and David found God, he’s been somewhat of a preacher in the household. Don’t get me wrong, I go to church and believe in god and all, but…”
“But sometimes that’s enough right?” Aleksandr said, echoing the all too real view point of most of the angels. He knew that was all his Father ever wanted, but it always got blown out of proportion. “He works in mysterious ways though, and if your son was spared, then it was for a reason. What happened to him?” he asked, looking down at the child.
David looked down at his hands as he wrung them together. “It was an accident at the gallery. A crate fell off of a fork lift while I was showing him where I work. The doctors said he wouldn’t regain consciousness, but the next day he was awake and asking for us. It was a miracle.”
“Well you really are blessed, aren’t you Simon?” Aleksandr rubbed the boys head, eliciting a smile.
“Amen to that,” David said as he grabbed a platter. “Aleksandr, try Mary’s ham.” He was desperately trying to change the subject, which was weird for someone supposedly into religion.
Aleksandr took the platter and took a helping for himself. He turned to Simon to offer some and saw the boy staring back at the glass case. He leaned down and whispered into the boy’s ear. “You can see it glow can’t you?” he asked, guessing that the boy could see the divinity in certain objects. Often people like this developed this sense after a near death experience, but most ignored it; unless they were fully exposed to something they couldn’t un-see. Aleksandr turned again to the table before the parents caught on to their whispered conversation. I must be here for the boy, he thought as he broke his fast with these kind souls. He must be in balance because of guilt.
Though rare, it was not unheard of to feel such guilt that it stained your very soul with the taint of evil. Such people often condemned themselves to hell, thinking they deserved it as a form of punishment. These souls were likely never identified, toiling away in the pits for something they didn’t truly deserve. In this case, the boy was pure so it shifted him into balance, though that was conjecture.
“So what brings you to New Seattle?” David asked the archangel
“My father said I would find something important here.”
“And did you? Find something that is?”
“So far I think I did. I just have to wait and see,” Aleksandr said trying to skirt the subject. “So David, what did you do before you started collecting religious art?” Before the man could answer, the sound of splintering wood and shouts echoed from the foyer.
Aleksandr saw the uninvited guests burst in waving guns. They fired two rounds into the ceiling to make their point, and it worked rather well for the Rand family. Mary grabbed Simon and slipped under the table, while David came around with his hands in the air.
“Please…take whatever you want, just don’t hurt us,” he begged as the men came into the dining room.
“”Who do we have here?” one of the thugs asked, looking at Aleksandr. He leveled the gun at the archangel’s face and cocked his head to one side. “Don’t scare easily do you?”
“Well you would have to be a threat for me to be scared,” Aleksandr countered, a smile on his face. He flexed his shoulders as he crossed his powerful arms, He was fairly certain that he could scare these brutes off without a scene, yet sadly, the courage of a small boy thwarted that.
“You leave my friend alone!” Simon screamed, breaking away from his mothers grasp. He ran for Aleksandr, putting himself in front of the archangel and for a split second time slowed.
Aleksandr saw the thug reflexively aim the gun at Simon, and pull the trigger. He had less than a second to save him, yet David leapt into the path of the bullet instead, taking the shot meant for his own son. In that perfect moment he made the only choice left to him. Azrael unfurled his wings, willing them all to see, Dad be damned. The men all stopped, some of them crying out and falling to prostrate themselves, and Aleksandr used that distraction to move among them with his fists. He was strong, stronger than anything they had ever encountered and within seconds it was over. The wailing of Mary brought him back to reality.
Aleksandr went to him and saw that the bullet had hit his right arm, yet he was deathly pale and sweating. He was having a heart attack. “Hang on David…” he started to say when he saw the soul start to peel away and float out of the body. The man’s eyes fluttered and closed, as his last breath escaped his body. Oh father, he thought, I’m here for him! He walked over and gently grabbed the soul, sending reassuring thoughts to it.
“Can he still here me?” Simon asked in a small voice, his tears dropping from his face like rain.
“You can see him?”
“Yes. Can I say good bye?”
“You most certainly can, though he can’t answer you back.” Aleksandr looked at Mary and saw that she was in such shock that none of this was registering. That was a blessing.
“Good bye father. I will look after mom, don’t worry, I’ll make you proud!” Simon finished and broke down into sobs as he stumbled over to his mother and hugged her.
Aleksandr, or Azrael as he was known, lifted the soul of David Rand up high and willed him towards the light. He must’ve done some questionable things before finding his faith, but that one selfless act had brought him into balance. Go in peace David, you saved him.
Aleksandr grabbed his jacket and left the house as sirens wailed in the distance. He sensed his brother in the darkness before he actually saw him. He was leaning on the Harley, slowly clapping his hands.
“Wings out and everything Azrael? Color me impressed,” Natasha said..
“This was your doing wasn’t it Lucifer?”
“Yes it was dear brother, but you know I only do things for the right reasons.”
“So you always say. What did this accomplish then?” Aleksandr asked, his ire rising towards his lost brother.
“Those men would’ve stormed this house three days from now and killed everyone. They knew that David had procured some priceless relics and their greed would drive them to finally act on their impulses. Young Simon would never come into his power and instead, pass on to heaven.” Lucifer turned as the police car screeched around the corner and unfolded his white majestic wings.
“So you had them come early knowing I would be here?” Azrael asked, his wings keeping his from these officers sight as well.
“Yes. I knew you would protect the child and I assumed David would die in the crossfire. Imagine my surprise when it was his heart that did it.”
“Well you got your wish Lucifer. The child can see now and will probably learn all sorts of things from those relics in there,” he shouldered past his brother and got on his bike, driving off.
* * *
Lucifer watched his brother fold in his black wings and drive off around the corner. First I tipped off Gabriel about Cain and Michael, now I’ve saved a Seer, he thought as he beat his wings, ascending into the sky. All my plans are coming together. The fallen archangel flew up into the clouds, heading to his next appointment with fate. It came in handy that he could glimpse the near future, and he would save them all …if it killed him.
Born in the usual way, author Michael D. Nadeau found fantasy at the age of 8 with Dungeons & Dragons. He loved being different people as well as casting magic and in time he discovered his love for reading. He has read hundreds of fantasy books, living in each of their worlds, and after awhile, he created his own. He is the author of the Lythinall series: The Darkness Returns book 1, The Darkness Within book 2 (June 2020) & The Darkness Falls (coming soon), and has several stories in Kyanite Press’s Journal of speculative fiction. His stories all connect and intertwine, but be careful, they don’t always let you leave after you read them.