2013 D. Paul Angel
Brothers in birth as well as in Calling; Aleph and Omeagh stood before the terrified villagers, leading them in prayer. Candles burned throughout the Abbey’s small cloister, adding smoke to the smell of the tightly packed crowd. The Monks kept the villager’s heads down in prayers, asking for forgiveness of the Lord as the shouts of the marauders came ever closer.
The two Brothers shared a quick glance. The Abbey’s walls were for keeping sheep in, not these barbarian wolves out. They knew it would only be a matter of time, but they would see to their Eternal Flock through till the end. A reverberating thunk shuddered the stout oak doors, stopping the villager’s prayers.
“Continue,” encouraged Aleph.
“Your salvation is now in the hands of God,” added Omeagh.
The door took half a dozen more blows before rending with a shower of splinters. The Barbarians burst through with guttural roars and threw the head’s of the village’s volunteer defenders into the crowd. One of the Barbarians stepped forward, bloody axe in hand, and shouted over the frightened, wailing din with a heavy accent, “Give us the God Men and we will spare you!”
Without hesitation the brothers placed themselves between the villagers and the Barbarians in surrender. Holding their hands up in supplication, they continued to ask for God’s mercy on their flock until the heavy axe was bloodied twice more.
Omeagh and Aleph found themselves on a long, narrow path. Its steep ascent led to an ethereal castle, high atop a barren mountain. The castle glowed with light and warmth while along the base and through the canyon below, swarms of desperate, tortured souls wailed and gnashed their teeth. The two Brothers knew they had been Called to walk the narrow path to God’s kingdom, but realized that even here a fall would be perilous and eternal.
Omeagh led, placing each step with care while silently praising God and his infinite mercies. Aleph followed, matching his brother step for step; his head nodding in slow rhythm to his prayers. After a time that felt both short and long, they arrived at the castle’s mighty gate. Angels, emblazoned with shining armor and razor sharp swords stood at either side. Omeagh entered, only to have the portcullis slam shut behind him, trapping Aleph outside.
Omeagh watched in horror as the path broke from the far canyon wall and slowly began disappearing. Aleph, seeing the panic in his brother’s eyes, slowly turned to face his fate. His fingers clenched the portcullis in fear before kneeling in prayer with a single, quick glance back to Omeagh. He continued shouting the praises of God until the path underneath him simply disappeared, plunging him into the roiling mass of turmoil below.
“Aleph! Why Aleph?! Why?!”
One of the Angels came to Omeagh and, putting a hand on his shoulder, gently but firmly pulled him from the portcullis as the castle’s gates slammed shut.
“Rejoice! The Kingdom of Heaven is full at last. For you are the last of the 144,000.”