“Resurgence”: Chapter 6

I actually had someone ask me if I was going to continue! Yay! That, to me, is big news.

Okay–so, here goes:

CHAPTER 6

Lydia tried to send Toby into the bathroom to wash his hands.

“Don’ wanna wass hands!” he bellowed defiantly.

Lydia sighed, then looked apologetically at Gabriel. “I’ll be right back…” She marched her little charge down the hall.

Gabriel smiled to himself as he listened to the exchange between Toby and Lydia. It was good to know that love was still alive in the world.

“Toby, you can’t make biscuits if you don’t wash your hands.”

“Why not?”

A pause, then, “Toby, you could serve dinner on that lower lip. Quit pouting.”

“Don’ wanna wass hands!”

“But you have to. You see, you have park boogers on your hands. They’re okay at the park, but no one wants park boogers in their biscuits. Makes them taste bad. You want people to like your biscuits, right?”

“Ye-e-es…” Then, his voice a little brighter, “Will Unca Gabel have bissits?”

Gabriel smiled wryly as he heard Lydia pause again, then reply, “I think he would love your biscuits. But I know he doesn’t like park boogers in them.”

“Why?”

“Um…because…they, um, get stuck in his teeth.”

“Oh.”

Then silence, except for the water running and the sound of splashing.

“Whoa! No, Toby, don’t eat the soap suds.”

“Taste yummy. Want some?”

“No, thanks. I’ll give you something better when we’re through.”

“What? Want now!”

Gabriel chuckled as Lydia blew out her breath in frustration. Obviously it had been a really long day.

Lydia came back into the kitchen, towing a very wet little boy.

“Gabriel, I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting.”

He smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it. I never have gotten used to the concept of time, so I don’t really think about it. Besides, I was enjoying listening to you.”

Lydia smiled, a little embarrassed.

“Cookie!” piped up Toby.

“Oh, I did promise you something better than soap. Okay, one cookie, then that’s it until after dinner.” Lydia smiled ruefully at the angel. “Who knew he liked vanilla-pomegranate so much? Back to regular soap for our boy here.”

She took down a box from a high cupboard and handed Toby a cookie. She then sat down across from Gabriel and looked intently at him. “So…”

She was at a loss for further words; thoughts of what had transpired at the park, along with his ominous words earlier, swirled in her head, blocking any coherent statements she might have made.

Gabriel met her gaze. In a quiet voice, he asked, “Something happened today, didn’t it?”

Lydia instinctively wrung her hands, as if trying to get rid of a cobweb.

Gabriel saw the move. “Your wrists? The stigmata?”

Lydia nodded, fear nibbling at the corners of her conscience.

Gabriel reached across the table and took her hand. “Don’t let fear in. Know that the Master knows, and cares, and doesn’t forget His friends.”

Lydia took a deep breath in an attempt to steady her nerves. “I know, but my mortal brain still fires on those neurons. Difficult to control when I don’t know what’s in store. Again, a mortal thing.”

Gabriel nodded. “I understand. Even though I have never had the, I guess you’d call it ‘freedom’, to feel fear, I’ve seen it enough times.” His eyes grew distant, sad. Then he shook his head, returning to the present.

“What happened that brought on the sensations?” he asked her gently. “What re-awakened them, do you think?”

Lydia looked surprised. “You’re telling me you don’t know? And you, an archangel at God’s side?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Well, I guess you could say that I know, after a fashion. But I’d still like your take on it. Besides, your reaction somewhat colors the next step we must take.”

Lydia pondered this for a moment, not thoroughly understanding it. But Heaven had its reasons…

A tug on her sleeve brought her attention sharply back. Toby stood beside her, impatiently waving a large spoon he’d retrieved from a drawer.

“Make bissits!” he demanded.

Lydia stifled a groan. “Toby, we have to wait until I’m through talking to Uncle Gabriel. Can you find something else to do until then?”

There was that lower lip again…

“You pomissed!” Toby all but stamped his foot.

Gabriel cleared his throat. When Lydia looked up at him, he surreptitiously hooked his thumb toward the staircase. “Perhaps someone else…?” he suggested.

Lydia smiled in relief.

Of course. Trudy!

She looked back down at Toby. “Tell ya what, kiddo. Get Trudy to help you make them. She makes really good biscuits!”

Toby brightened the room with his smile. “’K!” And off he ran, up the stairs.

“Toody!” he bellowed imperiously. “Make bissits! Wash first—no park boogers!”

“What?” came a distant, confused voice.

“Make bissits—bissits—BISSITS!!!”

“Oh, for the love of—okay, alright already, you little stinker.”

A melodious little laugh, and little running feet came pounding back down the upstairs hallway. They were joined by a set of much larger ones.

“Gotcha!”

Toby screeched in delight, and Trudy’s laughter mixed in with his. The two of them came down the stairs into the kitchen, Toby wriggling in Trudy’s arms.

Trudy froze in awe and surprise at the sight of the mighty archangel stretched out in a chair at the kitchen table. Never will get used to that, she thought to herself.

Gabriel smiled at her. “Good to see you, Trudy.”

Trudy, face flushing in embarrassment, shifted Toby to her hip and poked a stray bit of hair behind her ear.

“H’lo”, she said shyly. That was all she could manage; ever since their first meeting, her heart had done flip-flops at the mere thought of him. And now it was hammering in her ears. She knew it was silly, and pretty much a dead end, to fall in love with an angel. But, considering her history with mortals so far, this was much more preferable.

Toby wriggled impatiently, and Trudy set him down. He ran off, and she tried to meet Gabriel’s amused gaze.

“So how’s it going, living at home again?” he asked.

Trudy had been away at college, but after the incident that had changed their world, she felt she needed to be closer to her parents. After graduation, she had packed up her belongings and headed north.

“Okay, but I miss my friends. Especially Martha.”

Gabriel’s smile faded momentarily, but then it returned. “Have you seen Martha lately?” he asked.

A shadow crossed Trudy’s expression. “No, but…I’m going down this weekend.” At her mother’s surprised look, Trudy explained, “I just got a call from her a little while ago. Her grandma died, and she’d like me down there at the house for a while. Keep her company, you know?”

“Oh, poor Martha,” Lydia said. “Is this the grandma who raised her?”

“Yes, since Martha was seven. She’s having a hard time.” Tears welled up in Trudy’s eyes. “Martha doesn’t understand the Eternal like we do. I’ve tried to explain it to her, but she just doesn’t get it. I feel so bad for her.”

Gabriel held Trudy’s hand, a grave look on his face. “Doesn’t she remember what happened globally not that long ago?”

Trudy reluctantly pulled her hand away. “Yes, but she puts it down to mass hysteria.” She moved away from Gabriel, not wanting to remember it herself. Her own mother, lying still as death in the church, torn to ribbons…

No!

Trudy glanced away, refusing to let the thought go any further. “Where’s Toby? He got me away from a good book, so we’d better make those biscuits. Else some little bottom is going to get it!”

She hustled out of the kitchen, hollering for Toby.

Gabriel watched her go, and sighed.

“So much of humanity has convinced itself of that interpretation. Those alive today were physically untouched, so they think it was all imagined. Or that those who died somehow ‘deserved’ it.”

“Not all,” Lydia reassured him. “Trudy believes—how could she not? But you have to admit, That Night was pretty horrific. Many people would rather just forget the terrors they heard and saw.”

“If we don’t stop Lucifer from this plan he’s conjuring now, what you went through will seem like a walk in the park by comparison. Which reminds me…” He looked questioningly at Lydia, who self-consciously hid her wrists under the table.

“Don’t be afraid to face this,” he said. “We need the strength and faith of all of those who stand by God.” His face was all seriousness.

Lydia drew a breath, and plunged in. “We were at the park, Toby and me. He suddenly stopped playing and stared into the woods. That’s when I started getting that throbbing again.” She rubbed her wrists, willing herself to remain calm. “He said he saw a dog, and would have run over to the tree line if I hadn’t brought him home.”

Gabriel nodded.  “A dog.”

“Big. Black. I could only glimpse it for a moment.”

“Not surprising. A demon shows itself for a reason. Very few mortals can see one for what it is.” He suddenly realized what he’d said. “Of course, I don’t have to tell you that.”

“No. I think…”

Just then, Trudy burst back into the room. Lydia looked up, concerned at the confused look on her daughter’s face.

“Trudy? Can’t you find Toby?”

“”Yes, he’s just there in the living room.” Her voice had an odd quality to it. “But he’s acting—you have to see this!”

She ran back out, Lydia following. Gabriel hesitated, listening to a Voice he loved so well, then got up to join them. His outline began to shimmer, making him invisible to all but a chosen few.

Toby was standing in the living room, staring out the plate-glass window toward the tall bushes across the street. He had one finger in his mouth; the spoon, forgotten, had fallen at his feet.

Lydia felt Gabriel’s presence come up behind her. Toby giggled at that same moment. He didn’t break his stare, but pointed at the foliage with his other hand. “Doggy!” he said around his finger.

Lydia rubbed her wrists against her arms and hugged herself protectively. She stepped toward the little boy, forcing herself to remain calm.

“Toby?”

He laughed and did a little happy-jump. Still he did not look away from where he was staring.

“Toby…remember the biscuits?” Lydia knelt in front of him, trying to block his line of sight. He simply wriggled away and kept staring out the window.

Trudy looked from her mother, to Toby, to where she knew Gabriel stood. She was on the verge of panic.

“What’s going on? Why’s he like this all of a sudden?” She grabbed Toby’s arm and frantically jerked it. He stood firm.

“Toby!” she screamed, “There’s NO DOG!”

“Doggy!” was the insistent answer.

There was suddenly another presence in the room—another angel. He stood unobtrusively behind the group in the living room, his form shimmering as brightly as Gabriel’s. He nodded to his brother.

Gabriel quietly stepped up to Toby and stroked the curly-haired little head. “Toby? I sure would like a biscuit.”

That broke Toby’s concentration. He whirled around, grabbed the spoon from the floor, and headed for the kitchen. “Toody!” he yelled over his shoulder, “Bissits for Gabel!”

Trudy’s jaw gaped in surprise. Toby stopped, turned around, and came back. He grabbed her hand and tugged.

“Come ON!”

Then he saw the new arrival. They all did.

The new angel smiled and gestured for everyone to go back into the kitchen. Once behind the door, he and Gabriel solidified into material forms.

Lydia took a guess. “Raphael?”

The angel gave her a smile and a half-bow.

Trudy could only stare. Toby hid behind her.

Gabriel crouched down in front of Toby and said, “My brother is here for a visit, Toby. Could you be his friend? He likes biscuits too.”

Raphael looked confused for a half-second. Then his countenance lightened, as Gabriel clarified the meaning with one thought directed to him. He also crouched down and smiled at the little boy.

“Yes, Toby. I don’t know anyone here, and I sure need a friend.”

Toby looked to Lydia for reassurance and she nodded, smiling. Then he turned to Raphael, and his smile beamed almost as radiantly as the angel’s. “No park boogers in bissits!”

Raphael raised an eyebrow. “Well, I certainly hope not.”

He smiled wider as the little guy headed for the pantry. Trudy, still dumbstruck at the sort of company her family attracted, followed behind.

Lydia looked at Gabriel and Raphael in turn. “Okay, what’s up, guys? Heaven doesn’t usually unload almost all of its archangels for no good reason.”

Raphael was all seriousness. “That boy is marked down for glory. All efforts are being made to assure that his way is clear. I am to stay by his side, especially now. In a while, after Satan’s current plan is carried out and subsequently destroyed, Toby won’t need me near him as much. But for now…oh, don’t worry, you won’t see me as you do now,” he said, noting the look on Lydia’s face. “I’ll be as unobtrusive as his own guardian angel.”

“Speaking of which—isn’t that enough? His guardian angel, I mean?” Lydia looked perplexed. “Not that I mind you here,” she added hastily. “We could use all the protection we can get.”

“Under ordinary circumstances, yes. Absolutely. But Toby’s special, and as such is a specific target of the forces of evil. And, as you say, you could use the extra protection.”

Lydia shuddered. Just what were they all in for?

 

Outside, the black beast waited impatiently for the boy to return to the window. It was puzzled—how did the child break the thrall it had put on him? He’d almost been out the door and across the street, when he’d suddenly turned around and run out of the room. Could the women it had seen with the boy have done something? How could they? The beast had sensed some sort of power in the older woman when they were at the park, but certainly not enough to overcome its hold on the brat.

It waited a little longer, then it turned and trotted off into the deeper forest and disappeared among the shadows.

 

“Don’ wanna go bed! Want bissit!” Toby clung to a small bit of a much-drooled-upon remains of his kitchen triumph as Lydia dressed him in his pajamas. As promised, Raphael stayed out of sight. But Lydia knew he was there, standing outside the bedroom door. Toby knew too; no matter how Raphael tried to make himself unnoticeable, Toby had more than just his eyes to know he was there. The boy had a gift for seeing the invisible.

“Ray like bissits!” Toby exclaimed, holding his sodden treasure out to Raphael.

The angel smiled and shook his head. “I’ve had plenty, Toby, thank you.”

“Tell you what, Toby,” Lydia said, “We’ll put your biscuit in a napkin and you can have it tomorrow.”

In answer, Toby glared defiantly at Lydia and popped the mess into his mouth. At the taste of the gooey blob, now tainted with dirt and pet hair, he made a disgusted face and spit it onto the floor.

“Eww! Park boogers!” he yelled.

Lydia wrapped the glop in a tissue and handed it over to a surprised Raphael. “Please get rid of this. Trudy can show you where the garbage…” She stopped as the parcel simply disappeared from between his hands into thin air.

“Okay, never mind.”

She turned to Toby. “Now your teeth are all messed up, but we’re not going through all that trouble again. Let’s hear your prayers, then you get into bed. Raphael will stay with you—it’ll be like a sleepover.”

And how do I explain Raphael’s presence to Kim and Ned when they get home?

 

After the lights were out, Toby lay half-asleep in his bed. All was quiet; the light from the stars gave off a dull glow, and outside the crickets chirped their good-byes to the summer season.

Abruptly, Toby sat up, eyes wide. Raphael watched him from the far corner.

Toby stood on his bed and gazed out the window. He splayed his hand against the glass.

“Doggy…”

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Resurgence: The Rise of Judas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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