Courtesy of Deviant Art
It was the disconsolate songs of the children that called him. Sorrowful tender songs released from small lacrimal glands of children shedding tears filled with pain amidst cries of confusion. Those in his world called him the Angel of Mercy, as he tendered to that special group that was the hardest of all: children whose unfortunate time had come because of hunger, disease or violence.
Most angels stood by their assigned humans for decades, rescuing, caring and shielding them from dangers in life. Others, like him, were called to duties that were not for the faint of heart for it required much of them. They were given special assignments as penance for former lives reprehensibly led, as saving tools for their souls at stake.
He had not been a decent human being in his former life, having caused immeasurable sorrow and pain by his indifference and violent temper, never knowing the feelings of remorse or compassion. He never felt the power of goodness or love reside within the palpating chambers of his heart, making it ache with emotions for another. Instead, he had fed into his violent temper. And that violent temper had led him three times to take the life of another. In the world that had birthed his physical form, violence was just another way to express anger or retribution. In his world, ego and image reigned and had to be protected at all costs.
Yet the Fates felt he could be rehabilitated; his crimes having been a byproduct of the twin evil pair of Nature and Nurture to which he was born into and had no control. The Fates had witnessed him as a child, trying desperately to keep the Light in his life, trying to attain peace and joy, but with an alcoholic, abusive father, and a drug-addled mother that treated him like a dog that she often forgot to feed, his soul, little by little attached itself to the Dark One that taught him how to survive without care or emotional pain. And despite the dark spirit that had made a home within him, the Fates saw that faint glimmer of Light, still steady and strong. And an eternity in Hades would only aid in vanishing it completely.
And so he died in a bar room brawl. Apropos, considering his lack of respect for human life. His violent life cut short by a sharp, unforgiving blade that sliced his throat from ear to ear. Dark sludge gushed out of his carotid artery, leaving a pool of blood filled with the horrors of mankind on the floor. Death had finally freed him.
Or, so he thought. When he arrived at the Pearly Gates, he did not expect to be granted entrance from St. Peter. Even he knew the crimes committed were unforgivable. Yet, St. Peter did not reject him; but, he did not grant him entrance either. Instead he was fitted with the temporary wings of those whose access to an everlasting blessed afterlife would only come at the success of his rehabilitation. He would be given assignments that would take much of him for centuries to come; but, they were also the ones that in time would save him. There were no shortcuts in this eternal life, another thing stripped and discarded of his former life, along with the pervading inhumanity of his soul. He humbly accepted his penance, in awe of the loving Spirit who fought to keep his soul, against the Devil that wanted to claim it as his own.
Since then he had seen it all and held them all, absorbing each child's physical and emotional pains in an effort to ease their transit into the afterlife, their agonizing wails seeming inappropriate in the natural order of things, sounding out of place in the silent stillness of night. Children who should have been healthy, gleefully enjoying life, instead were dying from starvation or by choices of ignorant ideologies or having been inflicted with diseases so unnatural for some so new to life. His heart shattered repeatedly at the injustices seen but his assignments were not to question; his assignments were to bring them home. He had been a ruthless and mean bastard in life; however, this penance given in this eternal life moved him beyond understanding. It was as if each child was his own and, at the same time, he was each child, thereby opening his unwilling heart, releasing crimson tears of pain, staining his white, virgin wings over and over again. The cries and agony of the innocent fallen gifted him with emotions unknown to him; emotions he sometimes found difficult to bear. For centuries his heart bore these pains, desensitization being an emotion unknown in this world. That was the Devil's predilection, the very one that made him feared and hated by those that once loved him.
It was the wounded cry of the young that called him. He flew to their side in those final moments bathing them in his devoted glow of peace and tender love, letting them know they were not alone. He vowed to love them all and protect their hearts and bodies from further pain. With their suffering now ended, a new, eternal, peaceful life awaited them.
And before each Heaven-bound journey with the newly borne angels, three feathers - one for each of the lives he took - were left behind on the tombstone where his body now lay. Plucked from the wings that gave him life, a reminder that they were always in his thoughts. And that in time, forgiveness for himself would eventually find its way into his heart. Until then, he would roam the world guiding the fallen young into the afterlife. Until then, three more feathers fallen from a heart filled with remorse and pain, but not yet forgiven.