By Manny Jasus

Gabriel stood before the monolithic stone door, hung on its hinges eons before by the Creator Himself, and looked at the latches that ran at regular intervals up and around its edges. All of them had been pulled open except one.

Planting his feet, he grabbed the final latch with both hands and pulled forward with all of his strength. It snapped open, its cylinder bolt slid smoothly into the door and rested with a loud and definite thud that echoed to the core of the stone.

Gabriel groaned, and with a final heave swung open the door.

Silence.

Then cold; infinitely old and loathsome, rolled over and around him, sliding under his armor and into the folds of his robes, ripping through his wings, wrapping around his legs.

And a noise; a low hum; built its way to a guttural growl; a shadow, crouched and scraped it’s way forward out of its solitary prison.

Gabriel raised his arm, closing his hand. A column of flame exploded from his clenched fist, cutting through the shadows. He thrust it toward the Darkness.

But the Darkness was quick and leapt and struck first, knocking Gabriel to the floor, extinguishing his flaming sword.

The Beast reared up again, jaws wide with treacherous teeth, bared and bladed.

It lunged … but was stopped instantly by a rush of wind, an arc of fire and a flash of light pushed forward by a sudden command.

“THOU SHALT GAIN NO QUARTER HERE!”

The Monster shrieked in pain then lay slain at the Archangel’s feet.

Michael stepped forward, grabbed half of the demon in each hand and tossed the pieces back into the dark cell from whence they came. Then he knelt and helped Gabriel to his feet.

“Curiosity and bravery are very noble brother … but impulsiveness WILL be your end.

This door is not shut to keep the Darkness in, but indeed to keep US out. The danger of the Enemy is not in his strength or power, but in the cunning subtleness of his lie that we cannot be turned to the Darkness.”

Michael’s eyes spoke a truth born of endless ages seated at the left hand of The Almighty. They told of an unwavering strength, but also of boundless compassion and infinite grace. Beyond these they expressed an undeniable warning.

Turning towards the great stone door, Michael, Slayer of Serpents, touched it with a single finger. It swung swiftly shut with a mighty bang, each lock and latch snapping closed in unison.

Then, in a blink he was gone, leaving Gabriel alone, facing the door once again.

He stared at the stone for a long time, fists clenched by his sides, tongues of fire dancing from his hands.

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