Inside a dark hospital room at Charleston Memorial Hospital, Jorge Mendoza hung tenuously between life and death. His chest heaved shallowly under each uneven breath, while the consistent beat of a heart monitor echoed throughout the empty space. Only five feet away, lurking in the shadows, the massive silhouette of a man watched in silent anticipation as his prey slept, oblivious to the stranger’s presence.
With the stealth of a thief in the night, the stalker crept to the bed and covered the patient’s nose and mouth with his hand. Jorge jolted awake. His right eye scanned the room while the other drooped as the result of a recent stroke. When he looked up, Jorge met the menacing blue gaze of his attacker.
“Don’t scream or I’ll kill you. “ The stranger warned. “Blink if you understand?”
In acknowledgment, Jorge closed and opened his eye.
“Now we can chat. Do you know the reason I am here?“
Jorge lay for a moment, gasping for breath, assessing his opponent, “It doesn’t matter, I know who sent you.”
The visitor raised an eyebrow, “All the more reason to kill you, “ he countered while slowly retrieving a needle from his pocket. Then he walked to the I.V. bag and injected a substance into the tube. “Despite what you may think, my kind can show mercy. Your end will be painless.”
Jorge wanted to scream, but he knew it was futile. He would be dead before a nurse could make it to the room. All he could do was watch in terror as the stranger advanced on him.
Now, the man was chillingly close, his hot breath brushed Jorge’s ear as he whispered, “I have a message for you. It was sent directly from the one you tried to destroy.”
Jorge looked into his adversary’s eyes with unyielding resolve, “He sent you to do his bidding? Coward!”
The stranger clapped his hand over Jorge’s mouth. “The message is …His secret will die with you. But before you leave this world, he wanted you to know the game of hide and seek is over. ”
Jorge eyes widened, and he struggled under his attacker’s grip. Could he know?
The stranger’s smile contradicted the anger in his eyes, “Now, don’t struggle, it will only make the poison kick in faster. Since the end is near, and we know you possess what we want, you may as well tell the truth. Otherwise, we will have to begin our search in the home of your grieving widow. ”
In an instant Jorge grasped the true horror of the situation, ”My wife and family, they have nothing to do with this. You must believe me.” He stammered.
“It doesn’t matter at this point, we know it is in your possession. There is no other way you could have known my master’s identity.”
Jorge closed his eyes, his thoughts a mixture of sadness and regret. He should not have interfered, now he left a trail of breadcrumbs to an ancient secret his family had protected for centuries. “Help me.” He prayed.
Suddenly, a bright light flashed above the bed, and a tall, olive skinned angel with sprawling white wings, appeared opposite the stranger.
The visitor’s steely eyes narrowed, “Harut, it’s been too long. I knew you’d come running if one of your sheep was in trouble. “ The stranger tilted his head toward Jorge, smiling smugly, “Too bad it’s too late.”
The angel stroked Jorge’s salt and pepper locks, then he glowered at the stranger, “Abbadon, I will kill you for this!”
The stranger examined his nails, looking almost amused, “that remains to be seen, doesn’t it? The appointed time is near my brother. We’ll face off soon enough, then, we’ll see what you’re made of.”
The angel’s dark eyes narrowed. “Look at yourself! Walking around in sheep’s clothing pretending to be a man, the very thing you fell from grace over. Hypocrite! You embrace what you hate.”
Abbadon scowled at Harut, “Don’t push me, there are no boundaries in war and I will do what is necessary to win.“ He cautioned. “ I may be in sheep’s clothing, but this disguise got me close enough to kill one of your flock, Sheppard!”
“This is not over!” The angel promised.
A smile flickered in Abbadon’s eyes, “It appears to be for your human.” Then he turned and exited the room.
The heart monitor skipped a beat, and Jorge’s breathing quickened. He was dying and nothing could stop it. Soledad my beloved daughter he thought, now she will have to carry my cross.
The angel looked tenderly at his charge, “I wish you would not have interfered. Now I cannot help you my friend. “
A tear fell from Jorge’s eye. “I had to try, for my daughter’s sake.“ He coughed, “I failed you, I’ve failed us all,” he uttered through his last breath. Suddenly, the line on the monitor went flat and the sound of emergency buzzers overtook the silence.