~ a short story

Saint Michael the Archangel, Giulio Cesare Procaccini

The Saint Michael raced across the tracks as the sun peeked the mountains. Morning on the train had Angel Sior beginning, rattled into wakefulness from the velvet cushion. He raised himself from the cabin seat, flicked his gold-flecked suit’s vest back into order, watched dawn do its work. They moved over the land well. The clattering window frames portaled the rays with the shifting mountainside, producing a glorious painting. Sior chose to sit on this side of the train, on this particular trip, for this reason. He drank the image as power, sitting with palm under chin for seven hundred seventy-seven seconds.

The Eastern glow will beckon them, he thought with a smile and sungaze.

Be not afraid. The light infuriates them *because* it is good.

Saint Michael’s day job — that of flying this countryside along His trusty tracks, lighting it up, protecting them — would need help today.

That is where I come in… Sior proclaimed from the belly. A calling light from the engine, Michael’s head, blared through the landscape, rattling the train’s interiority, summoning its soldiers to and fro.

Already dressed, same for night and day, Sior grabbed his swordcase, donned his hat, and headed out into the aisle. Deftly, the well-built gentleman dodged the passage of the cook and his entourage of servers. They doled breakfast to the train’s other inhabitants with care. Sior steadied one of the tipping plates with his off-hand and kept on his way. His strides were forward, long and eager, to the southern end of the train, where the first strike would occur. With blackened, lifeless eyes, the cook thanked him with a whistling bark, from a damned language that Sior could not hope to comprehend. He did not turn back.

The Western fold’s fall will incite them with an animus not seen for a generation. We must barricade the Archangels with our presence. Buy a ticket and prepare yourself for the fight. Aboard the Michael, our Taxiarch, resistance will be most brutal and copious. Fight well, to the end. Don’t stop until the work is done. However long it may take… We must trust in His infinite love and power. In the end, I believe We shall prevail…

The words of the Allfather echoed in Sior’s mind. The first mountain, and its tunnel, approached. Clouds wafted the daylight. An overcast shed itself onto Sior’s shadow behind his fast-walk through the cars and to the tail. On the way, his eyes could not help but pass over the cabins and their inhabitants, many of whom still slept. Every open eye he saw was voided, a deep darkness inhabited them. In this Age, the late-doomed Travelers languished, birthed their sicknesses into offspring. Their work was cut out. His heart raced now, blood up and soul flashing with vengeant vitality.

When was the last time I felt such titillation?” Sior wondered aloud, summoning joy to counteract the anxiety. A child on his mother’s shoulder drew her gaze to the passing giant’s spectre. Sior gritted his teeth and avoided eye contact. Doubtless, he’d been asleep too long. Sior had forgotten how intense — how Real — the pleasures and pains were out here in the aisles. He slapped himself awake, spat prayers into the air before him.

The chittering, bellowing echoes of the damned started to surface from beneath his sandaled feet, from beneath the gold-glowing tracks of their sacred road. Below in the valley, where the train circled, the birds sang as warmth and light enveloped the people.

Angels have fought since the Dawn to keep that tranquility. Now, I pitch my very own verse to the flow.

Sior reached the penultimate cart with his sword drawn from its case, abandoned somewhere behind in blind haste. It gleamed gold and true, shimmering from its own heart unto the empty arena cart, ramparted for the occasion soon to be. Both hands gripped to its hilt with conviction, the Angel held it aloft, his attention and animus arriving on the summoning disorder at the back of the train. Wings drawn wide and glorious, manifold eyes open and glowering, he readied himself for use in the righteous and eternal battle.

Ahead, within the tunnel and its awaiting, barking darkness, the Saint Michael sped with singular purpose toward the next vanguard bout within the twilighting war of heaven and hell.

Hereafter, in the grey chaos of Sior’s fearsome swordsmanship, amidst the crashing windows and slots and doors of the caboose, the demons sang as they died. ~