Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gabriel


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***
Zechariah fell to the floor. His body shook. A sharp pain stabbed at his heart. Deep cold penetrated his body.

In front of him a creature floated barefoot a few inches above the floor. Zechariah swallowed hard and lowered his face to the floor. In his mind raced a thousand things thought and never said, things said and never meant.

A deep, gentle voice filled the air. “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. For God has heard your prayers. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son. Name him John. You will then have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Don’t let him touch wine or hard liquor for the Holy Spirit will fill him, even before his birth. And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord. He will possess the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. He will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom.”

Zechariah’s jaw dropped. Son? In my old age? He gazed at the angel with sharp eyes. His hand shook when he raised it to shade his eyes from the blinding light. But the light did not blind. Instead, the angel cast a warm glow.

With his hand protecting his eyes, not wishing to reveal his unworthy soul to the angel, Zechariah surveyed the years of prayer and hope for a son pass through his mind. But Elizabeth was barren.

We are so old. Who is this angel to speak to me of a son? Son. What a wonderful word. He turned the word over in his mind. How he had dreamed from his youth that someday, like his own father before him, he would have a son to bring honor to his household. Son. It is a simple word, but can a single word change the world? Or does this angel think a priest of the most high is to be made the fool? Does Heaven taunt me with my own weakness like Jaaziah the priest?

Zechariah lowered his hand from his face to reveal piercing dark eyes. He shook his fist at the angel. “But I am an old man, and my wife is also well along in years.”

From the angel’s eyes flames flared to the ceiling. The deep voice reverberated through the Holy of Holies, shaking the incense dispenser. Smoking incense dotted the floor at Zechariah’s feet. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the very presence of God. He sent me to bring you this good news. And now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will come true at the proper time.”

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

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