A world without light would be a very dark place indeed.
So thought the angel as he flew over the bright city, darkness swallowing everything except for the millions of dots that lined the tall structures. He flew this route every night; after all, it was his duty. His duty to protect. His duty to spread peace. His duty to bring justice. It was a calling that demanded all of one's potential and strength, and he welcomed it.
Shrouded in the wake of the clouds, his eyes saw everything. A drug addict passed out in an alleyway. A couple getting mugged at gunpoint. An underpaid worker heading home to his meager apartment, contemplating whether or not life was worth living. And yet the angel did not act upon any of these, as it was not his duty. Inwardly he knew the addict would never recover, the couple would soon be shot, and the worker would eventually make the inevitable choice. And yet he did nothing. He couldn't. That would be against the ancient laws, which were older than time itself. Every angel knew that disrespecting the laws could only lead to chaos and destruction. Such was the way the world worked. There was no changing it.
And so he flew on.
As the night changed, so did the city before him. He saw many different atrocities being committed. A death. A murder. A suicide. He did not stop them. They would all realize their mistake soon enough, when they woke up in the fiery ashes of hell with no hope of ever escaping. At first he'd felt sorry for the mortals and tried to help them, but his elders had quickly suppressed these actions. They told him that in order to be judged fairly mortals needed to find the way on their own. Helping them was, again, against the ancient laws. Order had to be preserved. Thinking back on it, he had to wince at how idiotic he'd been. Of course mortals had to find their own way. That was a basic teaching every little cherub was taught; and yet he, a fully-fledged guardian, had forgotten it. It had taken him a good hundred years to live down such shame.
Turning, he glided toward a different part of the city. Here the buildings were slightly smaller, and there were a lot of neon signs and billboards everywhere, but that wasn't the part that caught the angel's attention. What bothered him was the sheer amount of noise that was everywhere. It came from every crack, leaked from every window, swirling about in a great mass of energy that threatened to break the night peace. It made him grimace, disgusted. How humans ever managed to enjoy such abominations never ceased to amazed him. It was during this part of his route that he was reminded of how truly fragile humans were. So susceptible to even the slightest idea. He wondered what it would be like to be a blind believer. Surely it must be an absolute nightmare.
The night clubs were the worst. Central locations where humans could gather and dump all their sadness, fear, anxiety and stress onto the heads of anyone who happened to be within hearing distance. The angel tutted disapprovingly. Really, this was one of the most rude things he'd ever witnessed. Yelling about your troubles for everyone to hear? Mortals were supposed to be silent about such things. Such was the law, such was the will. The ignorance of humans was truly boundless, it seemed.
However, there was one good outcome of such a sacrilegious act: it helped him locate his target.
There, just leaving the bar, was a man. He wore a black, high-class business suit with a red tie, covered by a black trench coat. His face was obscured by shadows. He carried nothing, both his hands in his pockets. Turning, he began a brisk walk in the direction of the park.
Silently, the angel followed him.
The man didn't look back. In fact, he didn't look at much of anything. Just kept his eyes focused on sidewalk, the light of the corner streetlamp that marked the intersection getting nearer and nearer. Nobody he passed seemed to take notice of his clothing, which was completely out-of-place among the hoodies and bandanas that characterized this part of town. People instinctively moved out of his way as he passed, seemingly forgetting about him as soon as he left their field of vision. In their eyes he was little more than a shadow, a presence that one could feel but not see.
He reached the lamppost and began to cross the street, heading for the trees and grass of the downtown park. It was here that he stopped and breathed, taking everything in as if in a dream. There was a couple snuggling on a bench. An owl sitting in a tree. A dog that seemed to have not a care in the world and was resting on a bench, peeking out at everything with bright eyes that were full of life.
With a sigh, the man smiled.
With a cry, the angel pounced.
Like a streak of sunlight he came barreling down, shattering the quiet stillness of the night. His eyes glowed blue, his mouth open in a mighty battle cry. In one hand his sword glowed, ready to strike out at any evil that dared cross its path. His wings flattened as a miniature sonic boom echoed behind him, propelling his body straight towards the man in black. In a split-second his sword flashed and as he connected with the man he swung with all his heavenly might, hoping to end the fight there and then.
With a silent sound, the darkness was shattered.
Pure light erupted from the impact, tossing everything backward and scorching the ground black and gray. Any trees that were nearby immediately burst into flame. A nearby fire hydrant cracked and water began spraying. For a moment all the power in the block flickered as the two entities wrestled with each other, each trying to gain dominance over the other. Eventually, one succeeded.
The angel opened his eyes.
There, in front of him, stood the man. Only he was different. Instead of smooth and shiny, his skin was the color of fire and had the texture of rough paper. Instead of bright and joyful, his irises were black and cruel. Up the angel's eyes traveled, and there he saw the two, short, curved horns that poked through the combed dark hair. Something flicked at the corner of his vision, and he saw that a red tail was poking out from under the trench coat. Looking down he saw his sword, stopped in midair by the clutch of the man's fingers. It was as if he'd simply caught the blade.
With a laugh, the demon knocked away the sword and the battle began.
Quick as lightning the angel swung at the demon, but it wasn't there. Instead it was behind him, delivering a vicious kick to his back knee before flicking its fingers and sending him flying. Flipping in midair the angel growled, only to be caught by the foot and slammed into the ground with the force of a landslide. Reaching his legs up, he delivered a brutal kick to the demon's face before flashing his sword and attempting to cut the monster in half. With a cackle, the demon simply skipped out of the way, ramming its fist into the angel's elbow for good measure. Roaring, the angel sprang to its feet and swung, sending bolts of light hurling towards his adversary, all of which were avoided.
On the third swing his arm was caught, and again found himself hurtled into the ground, the demon laughing all the while.
And so it continued. At every turn his swing was matched. His bolts were dodged. His blade was caught. The demon held the truth-forged blade like it was nothing, a metal that was supposed to be lethal to its kind. Once, a bolt did manage to catch it in the shoulder, but it simply growled and shrugged it off. After that its attacks become more insistent, more brutal. It wasn't toying with him anymore. The angel was forced to absorb blow after blow, while the demon simply avoided everything thrown at it. It was just too fast.
And then came the moment, the dreaded moment. Again his blade was caught, but this time it was yanked right out of his hand. Turning, he saw the demon standing a few feet away, the heavenly blade held almost reverently in both hands. At least, he'd thought it was reverently until the demon grinned and snapped the blade in half like a twig.
He knew he was defeated then. The source of every angel's power was his blade. If it was broken, an angel was helpless until a new one was forged. Knowing he was about to die, the angel sank to its knees and told the demon to claim his victory.
It was then that the demon did the unthinkable: it refused.
The angel frowned. Again he repeated his words, demanding the demon at least entitle him to the death he deserved. And again, the demon refused.
For you see, the demon hadn't started the fight. It had noticed the clumsy angel over a mile away, and yet had done nothing. It would have been content to walk in the park, share a bench with a dog, maybe have a chat with an owl or two. It hadn't had any malicious plans or devious concoctions in mind at all. In fact, it had simply wanted to enjoy the night.
Then the demon spread its arms and showed the angel the devastation their fight had wrought. It pointed out how the couple had fled, their bench smashed into pieces. It pointed out how the dog was whimpering, covered in scratches from flying debris. It pointed out how the owls had left, one or two of them lying dead on the ground due to a bolt gone astray. All of these things, these 'atrocities to nature' as the demon called them, had been caused by the angel. The demon had had no part in it.
Defiantly, the angel proclaimed it was worth it. So what if a few nice things were interrupted for the time being? Life always continued. Demons were monsters, cowards, causers of sadness and tragedy. They were the reason the Earth was not the utopia that it was supposed to be. They stood idly while others suffered, only interested in themselves and their own doings. They deserved to be wiped out. It was worth it.
At this the demon became furious. Its eyes burst into black flame and in a flash he was in front of the kneeling angel. It seemed this servant of light needed a lesson in the ways of the world.
Grabbing the angel's shoulder, the demon pressed its palm against his forehead.
The angel's mind screamed.
Thousands of sounds, millions of images, thousands of moments documented in every one of the senses. In an instant, the demon showed the angel every death it had ignored, every tragedy it had turned a blind eye to, every wrongdoing it had let past. It showed the angel the pain and suffering of every mortal in the city, and it was monstrous. In a moment the angel's mind shattered, and every scrap of righteousness and justice was ripped away and crushed into dust, leaving him a broken, blubbering infant.
Wordlessly, the demon stepped away, letting the angel fall to the ground. It stood there for a moment, watching him gasp and shake and sob before turning away and slowly making it's way down the street.
Despairingly, the angel watched him go. Everything had gone wrong. Everything had changed. The world didn't make sense anymore. What could he have done? He hadn't known any better, and now he was little more than a child.
Lightness was in fact dark. Darkness was in fact light.
Letting out a choked sob, the angel collapsed onto the ground, and began to weep.
A world without light is a very dark place indeed.
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