He awakened slowly. It was bright. The luminescence prevented him from seeing anything. He tried to shield his eyes, but the light seemed to be everywhere. “Have I died?” he thought. “Is this Heaven?” He closed his eyes and felt around. He immediately felt his notebooks all around. “I thought it was dark when you were blind,” he said to himself. A spike of panic at the proposition of failing to fulfill God’s message forced him to check his eyesight again. His lids drew open a fraction of an inch further allowing the piercing light to attack his retinas. He thought he could make out the outline of his bed and the window beyond. His gaze to drifted to the floor, he could see his thighs stretching out in front of him surrounded by the rectangular outline of notebooks. His eyes adjusted some allowing him to make out the spiral spines of notebooks, pant folds at his knees, and the slight texture of the medium carpet between the shapes surrounding him. It was uncomfortable, but he managed to bring his gaze back to the edge of the bed. The light source emanated from just above his bed like a spotlight pointed directly at his face. Vision growing more detailed, he said “Thank you, God for sparing my vision.” Something moved behind the light.
“Hello,” a soft but confident voice answered back.
This sent him springing to his feet. The quick movement after unconsciousness gave him a head rush, and the light-headed feeling made him lean back using his hands on a shelf to maintain balance. “What do you want?” He heard the creak of the bed, a sound it made every morning as he climbed out.
“Calm yourself, believer,” came a smooth voice. The voice was supple and understanding. It filled him with comfort. “I am Michael.” He fell to his knees and instantly began to weep with convulsive sobs. He hadn’t heard any footfalls, but he became aware of the someone standing over his bowed form. He tried to speak, but sobs held his voice silent, all he managed was a gurgle. He felt a large open hand lightly press into his back, “Be at peace, child,” the smooth voice answered. He pleaded, “Michael, I have received God’s message and I am a willing and ready servant.“ Tears traveled down the length of his nose, dripping off the tip, leaving a cold spot where the drops departed to the floor. “You are true in the eyes of The Lord,” Michael said. He wanted nothing more than to look into Michael’s eyes, but he wouldn’t. “Rise, child,” the angel commanded, so using a hand on his knee he pushed himself up to stand. Eyes still lowered to the floor he asked, “What would you have me do?”
He noticed the brightness of the room had diminished to the glow of a lamp. “Look to me my child,” Michael requested, and he felt a finger lightly touch under his course chin lifting his head. He could see large powerful muscles running down the arm from a white robe that connected to the finger lifting his chin. Fear poured ice into his veins. He managed to look upon the perfect face. The eyes were pure black. He could clearly see his reflection in both obsidian colored orbs. Michael was at least six foot-five with long blonde hair pushed back atop broad shoulders. To his disappointment, no wings rose from behind creature. The face he looked upon had a sharp nose and chin. Michael was clean-shaven revealing soft lines around the lean features.
Michael withdrew his finger, returning his arm to a relaxed position. “I bring a gift from heaven, so that your task of destroying Satan’s minions will come to pass.”
He nodded in response. “How will I be able to destroy them? I am a weak member of the flock and do not know how to fight our enemies.”
Michael drew back a fold on the left side of his robe revealing a sword at his hip. “This weapon of Heaven shall be your blessing. This sword saw the battle with Satan in the first age and smote the demons he commanded.”
He felt guilty. “I don’t know how to use a sword.” Worry this would prevent him from doing his duty for God came as the words were said. Tears began to fill the corners of his eyes. Michael’s expression lightened, as a small smile crossed his face.
“The power of God will guide your hand, and you will know the power of the Holy Spirit when your enemies wither before you.” The smile faded back to a wide-eyed stare that was as stern as any he could remember. “Are you ready, to go hence, and stand before your enemy? Vanquish fear from your heart, servant of God, for the power of God will be with you. Come.” He followed Michael through the house and into the cool morning air. The silence of the environment struck him immediately. He heard no birds chirping, or squirrels barking discontent; there were no cars on the roads, or planes in the sky. The only sound was the crunching orange, red, and yellow husks of the summer’s canopy underfoot.
“You must travel with haste to your enemy. Announce to your enemy your intentions. Then take up my sword against them all who bear the mark,” Michael said with a voice low and serious.
“You will know the mark.”
“Okay, I believe you and I am ready, even if my enemies kill me, I will be forever grateful at this chance of grace.”
Michael‘s right arm went across his body and he drew the sword from his waist. Bringing the sword to an upright position, then lowering by turning his wrist to the left and resting the tip in his left hand, the sword was held before its new warrior. He looked the length of Michael’s weapon and noticed it swirled with a dark mist across its surface. Micheal removed his hands from beneath the blade. It hovered only for a moment before dropping to the ground,. Rustling leaves swirled away from the impact. A stiff cold wind blew past him carrying more leaves over the sword and past his feet. He looked up to find Michael was gone, and that it was no longer a cool, bright fall morning. The clouds had returned and with it an emptiness. With a deep breath he bent down allowing his fingers to wrap around the sword’s pommel. His heart raced. The sword was warm and impossibly light. He brought the sword to the same upright position the Michael had shown him a moment ago. He looked up and down the sword in awe of the absolute beauty imbibed within the terrible weapon of Heaven. He could feel power emanating from the blade, and the blade’s black swirls seemed to excite, sliding and twisting across the mirror shine. His muscles were tight giving him the feeling of a loaded gun, hammer back and ready to fire.
“Where am I going?” he asked the sky.
“Your enemy resides to the east,” came a voice on the wind.
“How will I know my enemies location?”
“The sword will show you the way, and then you will see the marked ones. Now go.”
He walked into the house to grab a the bottle of juice, his black Navy coat, and pack of peanut butter crackers. The door of the Lincoln Continental welcomed him with a loud squeak. Placing the sword across his lap with the tip toward the passenger door, he started the engine and paused at the edge of his driveway. The instant before he engaged the accelerator the sword hummed with the words, “Go left.” He looked to his lap with astonishment.
“Did you just talk?”
“Go left,” was the reply.
“Wow. Praise God. Let’s go,” he said, as he depressed the accelerator. The sword led him down familiar roads at first. Then further into uncultivated regions with fewer paved roadways intersecting the main byway. The weapon hummed at intersections and turn-offs upon approach. He was lost after a bit, there was an effort to notice road signs and landmarks as they appeared, but he was too excited to keep them in order. Soon the paved roads turned into gravel and dirt. The unkempt dirt roads slowed his pace. Collapsing houses with small junk yards for lawns and mud pits for driveways became the common home. The journey became a collection of “No Trespassing” signs, and the horrible roads continuously assaulted the old Lincoln. He looked to his gas meter and noticed it was resting on “E.” The sun neared the horizon, and the thought of the coming night worried him a little. Any uncertainty he resisted with faith, grabbing the sword pommel, remembering his charge. Eventually, the sun moved behind a hilltop and never peaked above the horizon again. The dusk caused him to wonder how long he would have to search. He had assumed that this would be a trip directly to his target and a safe return home, but if he had to, he would walk his forty days in wilderness. He only needed to keep faith. When the old Continental finally sputtered to a stop the darkness was complete. Once outside the cold wind stripped his flesh of warmth. The sword hummed, “Continue.” Putting the sword on his shoulder, he set off down the road.
The total darkness forced him over to the side of the road where the tree and fence lines were easier to detect. There were specs of light on hillsides and as he walked, he noticed lighted windows across dark fields and thinning tree tops. Every now and then, the dark woods would pop and snap at him, keeping secret the source disturbance. The calls of cattle could be heard from distant fields. A gunshot rang out somewhere in the hills at a great distance. The sword began to hum upon approaching a narrow driveway to his left. “Go left,” the sword instructed.
The driveway was little more than a path, and it was obvious the Lincoln would not have made it. Only one vehicle would fit on the driveway, and the ruts and pot holes were shin deep at times. A large hand painted sign reading NO TRESPASSING, TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT was nailed to a large tree dominating half the driveway. The incline of the drive began to steepen and after what had to be several hundred yards, the sword hummed to life and said “There.” He brought his gaze up the hill and noticed a yellowish glow broken into many little pieces by foliage. He gripped the sword tightly uttering, “God give me strength.” His pace quickened with each step.