Mercy didn’t just hear or smell the angel falling and becoming caught in the power lines; she saw it. Abandoning the wet clothes she had been taking out of the washing machine, she hurried outside and across to where she thought at first a person parachuting or using some other flying device had come down. She heard the crackle of electricity and could only watch as a bolt travelled along into the person.
Crying out, she saw the person struggling and more electric bolts striking them. Even as she came to stand close by, she knew there was nothing to be done and really, she should have phoned the police straight away. Too many times she had seen birds and other animals go the same way. Wrapping her hands in her dress and apron, she heard one of the lines twang and Mercy looked up to see it snapping. The now still body was weighing the lines down and they couldn’t take the weight. She moved back, torn between seeing if the person was still alive and going back to the house to phone for help.
The lines snapped, dropping down and wrapping around the person as if they had been caught in a spider’s web. Mercy stepped forward before stopping again, the lines could still be alive and she couldn’t afford to put herself in danger. A limb hand reached out towards her and for the first time she saw the white feathers. Frowning she wonder if a bird had become tangled up too, but as more white feathers drifted down, she came to the conclusion that the person must have been using some kind of winged flight contraption.
Slowly, she approached and nudged the bundle of wires and body with her booted foot. She wondered if the electricity had run into the earth now and if it was safe to touch the body. They must be dead, she thought, nobody could have survived that. A groaning called her out of her thoughts and Mercy knelt as best she could and tried to figure out where the person’s head was.
‘Hello? Are you alive? Moan or something if you can hear me,’ she spoke.
A moan sounded and she took that for an answer.
‘I don’t know what to do. Should I call someone?’
Another groan and then the person moved and slowly began to untangle themselves.
‘I don’t think you should do that,’ Mercy said as she moved backwards, ‘the wires could still be alive.’
A tumble of words reached her ears and puzzled she watched as a man emerged from the power lines and climbed to his feet before her. Her bewilderment grew as she saw the man was wearing what appeared to be a white robe- now slightly burnt and very dirty-and brown sandals. His hair was very blonde and just long enough to cover his face and neck. He also had large white wings strapped to his back and smoke was drifting up from them. Mercy pointed and tried to tell him this, but words failed her.
He stared at her with the bluest eyes she had ever seen before looking at his wings.
‘On no!’ he cried and began twisting and turning about whilst trying to stop the smouldering feathers.
That’s highly ineffective, Mercy thought and almost left to get a bucket of water, but the risk of causing more danger stopped her. ‘There’s a water pump over,’ she called out instead.
With an anguished cry, the man rushed over and pumped the handle like crazy. Water gushed out and he dived under. Mercy followed behind him, watching his hand trying to pump the water whilst his other grabbed at the wings. Mercy took over for him and instructed him to sit down. She was relieved to find that worked and the man became calm as the water rushed over his wings.
‘Can’t you just take them off?’ she asked, ‘it might be easier and you wouldn’t have to get wet too.’
He stared at her, water dripping off his hair and face. She gasped at his handsomeness and her hand slipped off the handle. He stood up and the two wings spread themselves out behind him. They were almost as tall as he was, but a lot broader, each made an arch shaped behind him and Mercy wondered how they actually worked.
‘They’re attached,’ he answered.
She pulled a face, not convinced she had heard him right. Before she could ask what he meant, he turned around and she saw that they were attached to his shoulder blades. Large holes had been cut in the robe for them to fit through and Mercy could see patches of skin.
‘An angel? But…I…how?’ Mercy stuttered.
He turned with a flourish, holding his arms wide in front of his wings, ‘that’s what I am. Well done. How? Because I was good in life. I’m Septimus, nice to meet you.’
Mercy swayed backwards, her mind and mouth trying to form words but making no sounds.
‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean too…’ Septimus looked over his shoulder at the broken power lines, ‘I can fix that…erm…you are Mercy Bentley, right?’
She nodded and had to steady herself on the water pump. Breathing deeply, she rested her other hand on her hip and looked down at the puddle of water which was slowly disappearing into the dry earth.
‘Are you okay? Do you want some water? A chair?’
Mercy waved her hand and kept her eyes fixed on the ground. So many thoughts and questions were rushing through her head. She wasn’t sure what to ask first or if she wanted anything to do with this angel as he claimed to be. Taking a deep breath, she brought her hands to her stomach and looked at him.
‘Maybe we should go in and sit down?’ he suggested.
‘Why are you here?’ Mercy asked instead.
‘God sent me. Well, really, my commander did. He got his orders from one of the angels above him and they might have got the orders from one of the angels up top and they were probably got there orders from Him. Though, I can’t be sure. I don’t understand the system, it can get confusing, you see?’
Mercy shook her head.
‘I’m here to help you,’ Septimus concluded.
‘I’m fine. Honest,’ Mercy replied and turned to leave.
‘No you’re not,’ the angel called and came to her side. They walked together for a moment then the angel added, ‘you’re just in shock. It’ll pass soon. Would you like to go and lay down? I can wait.’
‘I’m good, thanks, please leave me alone. I’m sorry you had a wasted trip. Goodbye now.’
Mercy reached her porch and walked up the steps. As her fingers reached out for the door handle, the angel’s voice spoke close to her ear, ‘I’ve been assigned to stay with you. I’ve come to help you and the baby.’
Mercy spun, her hands dropping to her lower belly. She saw that the angel was behind her, waiting at the bottom step and looking up at her with a sad expression on his face. Septimus shrugged his shoulders and wings as if in reply.
‘How do you know?’ she asked.
He looked up at the sky, ‘we see everything.’
Mercy glanced up then opened her front door and stormed in.
‘It’s’ the truth,’ he called after her.
She heard his sandaled feet slapping on the floor and the door opening. He followed her into the living room and joined her on the sofa. Miraculously, he was dry and clean as he sat down. Fascinated, she watched his wings folding around him and fading in definition until they had almost disappeared. She wanted to reach out and touch them to see if they were still there, but she resisted.
‘You asked God for help,’ Septimus begin softly, ‘He can’t come Himself, so He sent us- His angels- in His place. We try to do the best we can, but people can be so…resistant, I guess?’ he shook his head, ‘humans don’t believe like they used to. It can take a while for them to accept us, but we only want to help.’
‘And how do you plan to help me?’ Mercy cut in.
‘In whatever way I can.’
‘Useful. Really useful,’ she puffed, ‘aren’t you suppose to try and convince me to keep the baby or something? You do know I’m still thinking about getting rid of it or adopted, right?’
Septimus nodded, ‘of course, I know that, but that’s not my job. It’s up to you what you do. It’s your body, your fault, free will and all that.’
‘My fault, huh?’
Mercy picked up a paper fan and began to fan herself, though she was half tempted to hit the angel with it. He was shrugging his shoulders again and looking for a better way to explain his words. He shook his head and turned back to Mercy’s piercing eyes.
‘I’m here to guide you and help you to reach a decision, if you like. But, I’m perfectly happy with what you decide to do. Your baby isn’t one that’s important to the world, so that should make it easier. I mean…he, they, don’t really change anything. Ouch!’
Mercy hit him with the fan and stood up, ‘don’t talk about my baby like that! Get out!’
‘I’m sorry!’ Septimus shouted and curled up in a ball whilst his hands stayed held up to ward away the fan, ‘this is my first job in a while. Really, I wanted one of the female angels to do it, but she wouldn’t swap. I’m trying to get it right. I’m sorry.’
‘How can you be so unprepared to do your job?’
‘I’m not. I had this speech and anything. Just nervous or something, I guess. I want to help. Honest I do! Please!’
‘Well, I don’t want it. Leave! Go back to Heaven or wherever. You’ve caused enough damage. I don’t need any more around here.’
‘I’ll go and fix the power line right now. I said I would, didn’t I? Septimus bawled as he jumped up and fled to the door.
Mercy watched him go then dropping the fan, went into the kitchen. Her washing was still on the floor. Tutting, she picked it up and began hanging it up. From the corner of her eye, she saw a flicker of light and turned to the window. Frowning, she stepped closer and watched as the angel fried himself again on the live power lines. Shaking her head and putting her hands on her hips, she decided she had no choice but to go and help him again, least he get into more trouble.
Putting on her coat, she went outside and saw Septimus curled up on the floor shaking, his wings and robe with smouldering again and he looked miserable. Mercy tapped him with her boot and his eyes rolled to her face.
‘Come on,’ she said, ‘before you actually kill yourself.’
Slowly, they went to the water pump and she dumped cold water over him once more.
‘Seems, like I’m going to have to teach you a few things,’ she added.
The angel nodded, ‘I have a lot to learn.’