The gates don't always lead where they seem. Daily Flash Fiction Winner
|Amraiel hated the sunset. She hated the way the sun painted the voluminous clouds that made up her palace a sea of pinks, oranges, and reds. How could humans think this was beautiful? She missed the purity of the fluffy white clouds. The bloodbath of colors before her only reminded her of what she truly was.
A gong loud enough to rattle the sky rang through the air. Amraiel sighed deeply, the sound reverberating through her chest. A new arrival. She faced the towering clock that resided in the main hall. The sheer size and golden filigree of the Clock of Eternity always amazed humans. It had been breathtaking once, but she was long since jaded. Settling into her silken cloud throne, Amraiel waited to play her role.
It always started with a shocked gasp. Humans were so predictable. Wandering through the main gate, this one was a man. He was only halfway through life, his slicked back dark hair only beginning to show flecks of gray. An impeccably tailored suit displayed his broad chest and trim figure.
Although in an unfamiliar place, he seemed to walk with ease after the initial shock had passed. Maybe he wouldn't walk so freely if he saw the wailing souls that followed him like balloons on a string. Amraiel counted at least seven. He'd been busy during his lifetime. A pleasant smile filled her face, she couldn't let him see her distaste with his kind.
"You look like a dream," the man spoke. His voice was deep and rich like thick chocolate syrup. "Are you an angel?"
The pleasant smile stayed plastered on her face. "I am but the gatekeeper," Amraiel replied in her favorite way to avoid that question.
"I've never seen anyone with eyes that magnificent shade of silver. And you have those beautiful feather wings. You are surely an angel."
Amraiel extended her four wings to their fullest. They were indeed glorious-she had designed them to be. "If you think so highly of me, you should see the ones on the other side." She rose from her throne as the doors of the Clock of Eternity swung open. Streaming from within was the warmest light. It burned against Amraiel's skin.
The man was mesmerized. He seemed to walk forward against his will, as if the light was drawing him in and passed Amraiel without looking at her. She didn't have to turn to know he was about to cross the threshold when there was a bloodcurdling scream. Looking over her shoulder, the man had a long blackened claw impaled through his skull. His eyes met hers and she knew what he saw.
In the light, her silver eyes turned black. Her fair skin turned bloodred with long raven hair cascading down her shoulders. Her feathery wings were leather and clawed. She lifted a hand and waved as he was dragged inside.
"Welcome to hell," Amraiel muttered.
She donned her disguise once more and pretended she was indeed an angel as she sat once again on her throne. A gong sounded and Amraiel groaned.
A new arrival.