New experiences can be delightful, can’t they? What is more delightful than taking flight and finding your own adventure out in the world? For little girls, such as myself, I never knew any better. I thought that when I was offered a journey to Heaven to be under the King himself, being watched for potential and wisdom, and then chosen from so many other little girls, I was the luckiest angel to ever spread its wings. Children my age are blind, however, to the corruptions of the world revealed to us in our later years. I reflect now, as an adult, on the complications that lead me to my peculiar and particular situation.
It all began when I was a mere 4 years old. I lived a relatively simple life, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father. I would run down hills and pick the wildflowers which bloomed in all colors when summer rolled around. I would scribble chalk until the sidewalk and I were equally as dusty. I read, drew, ran, played, skipped, and smiled like every other little girl in the world would. I only had one difference from all the others around me: a small set of white, feathered wings. My mother told me they were a gift from God and that I shouldn’t sully them with feats of strength and agility in an attempt to gain favor with the other children. I didn’t quite understand at the time why she wouldn’t want me to show my gift to the world, but I listened to her. My brother and sister weren’t ever normal either, one dotted with scales, the other surrounded by shadows. I suppose, in retrospect, that I never was truly normal; only foolishly believing my own folly. As a young and pliable mind, however, I never knew any different.
On a summer’s day, like much of the others which had already transpired, my sister and I amused ourselves with rounds of hopscotch, determined to see which of us had the superior balancing and hopping abilities. I remember my sister and I agreeing whomever should win would be crowned the “Queen Rabbit” and for the entirety of the day after, the other would serve the Queen however she deemed fit. Upon my toss of the stone and then respective hopping, I spied a curious group of men, like me, with their faces shrouded by dark cloth. I wondered why they were here and why they were so open about their gift. I pondered whether the men have received the same lesson from their mothers as I had.
“I don’t like the look of them…” My sister muttered to me while attempting to pull my gaze from them, while they looked back at me with equal intensity. I, however, would not yield and with childish curiosity, walked over to them, much to my sister’s dismay. They looked at me, then to one another, and continuously whispered something I couldn’t quite fathom. When I was finally graced with their gaze, one stepped forward to me.
“You’ve been chosen Priscilla, chosen for something special.” He seemed trusting enough to me, his cloak much fancier and ornate by comparison to the others. My eyes sparkled with wonder and I inquired as to what he meant I had been chosen for and what made it so special.
“You’re to come with us in two weeks’ time to venture into Heaven and into your next phase of life.” He smiled gently at me, and despite the glare my sister was giving them, stood firm in front of me. I was a rather shy little girl, and to be learning that I was chosen to enter the golden gates alongside all of the other good souls of world, excited me. I graciously accepted, causing my sister to look upon me with near contempt and shock, but I smiled. The group of men shuffled off to a safe distance away before spreading their wings as far as they could and flying off into the azure sky. My small and undeveloped mind soared with wonder at their wingspan, their clothing, particular manner of speaking, everything. I felt honored, even at that small age, to be joining angels the likes of them.
“Are you crazy? Do you have any idea what you may have just gotten yourself into?” My sister exclaimed, as high as her voice would allow her to go. I meekly responded that I wanted to see what they had to offer me, especially under the prospect that I was “chosen” rather than “selected”. She sighed angrily, the same sigh she employs on many occasions today, and pulled me towards home. I protested, wanting to know which of us was to be the “Queen Rabbit”, only to be quieted by a distressingly long lecture from my sister, warning against the evils of the world and how I should never trust strangers, no matter what their species was. I knew my sister was wiser, having many more years of experience than me, but I wanted to make a decision of my own. It was my life after all, and I should choose to do what I want with it.
My mother took the news badly. For the majority of this day and the day following, she either cried or scolded me, smothering me with kisses or forbidding me to even venture from my room. I understood her anguish, but I wanted to venture away. I was going to God’s domain, where she said my wings were gifted from, so I saw great opportunity there. My last two weeks at home expired as quickly as my resentment towards the negative and warning comments of my mother and sister. I had eagerly packed all of my belongings away, determined to leave whether anyone protested or not, whether I would be missed or not. I assured myself I would receive letters and telephone calls from my family; since Heaven was so kind to take me, they would surely deliver all my important mail, to and fro.
The same cloaked men came and whisked me away from my family and their tearful goodbyes. My sister’s displeased countenance remained on my mind for the remainder of the journey, but I tried not to let her suspicions get the best of my big day. The cloaked strangers talked of other children, of fine schools and education, the beauty of the blessed kingdom, and some of the particulars of where I would be staying. I took all this information to heart, ready to make a good impression on the new teachers and friends I was sure to meet and make. I remember my heart a flutter as I let my little wings carry my body up above the cloud cover, looking to the bright sun and to the kingdom beyond.
Heaven was everything I had imagined it to be when I first arrived. People flooded the gates, trying their luck with Saint Peter to try and enter, hoping their deeds were good enough to prove themselves good denizens of the Lord. I, along with the others, entered through a side gate where those who had already earned their wings could enter the kingdom. I looked all around, in every which direction my eyes would allow me, trying to take in the scenery. Golden towers and buildings rose all around me, ornamented and adorned with fine gems and pearls, making the sheen from the sun nearly blinding. I almost couldn’t comprehend how the others could walk freely despite the glare, but I didn’t really worry with questions off on a tangent. I inquired to the others when we might reach our destination.
“All in good time child, all good things come to those who wait.”
“The Lord’s grace comes often, I am sure you will be spared many for your own, virtuous life here.”
“You are special, chosen for the King’s own devices, I know a grand fate awaits you.”
I smiled and graciously accepted all of their answers despite being overwhelmed with their three, simultaneous yet heavy sounding answers. I was anxious to start my path towards a new fate, and once arrived, I ran. I ran as fast as my little legs could carry me through thick and heavy brush, to what appeared to be an empty building, far from the grandeur of the others in the city. I was momentarily confused before everything had gone blank. After what felt like an eternity asleep, I awoke to being carried down a hall, surrounded by stained glass windows, each with a plain and common looking man, bearing a gift, twelve of them in fact. I looked up, half in a daze from whatever medicine had knocked me out, and saw the same men which had brought me to Heaven in the first place. I slowly and in a hoarse voice inquired about where I was being taken, which I was given no response. I tried to struggle, but found my limbs bound by chains and rusty shackles. I was being carried into a room of some sort, which I saw the door at the end of the hall just within my field of vision. The doors slowly creaked opened and blood, in all its forms, bombarded each of my senses. I heard it squishing under foot, saw it on all the walls and ceilings, smelt it congealing, and felt it slowly seeping out from under the table I was placed upon. This room had children, cold, motionless children, piled up in every corner, each beaten beyond original recognition. I was sure that not even their parents would recognize them now. Fear had kicked in within me and I began to thrash, only to be restrained by the cloaked men.
“You better keep quiet, this is an honor for someone like you.”
“You have no better use than what we intend you for today.”
“Perhaps we may be able to actually make some use of you.”
My eyes widened in terror and the tears began flowing quickly, I didn’t know where I was, who these people really were, or if the purpose they spoke of beforehand was even a possibility now. Once again, I heard the door creak open and close, my eyes wandering over to who or what came through. I saw another man, much stronger in presence and expression, dressed in the finest clothes that I had ever seen on anyone. He stepped forward as the one of the other men tied a blindfold on me and gagged my mouth. With the loss of these two senses, my fright heightened to a new extreme, auditory and aromatic imageries filling my head.
“Is she the new vessel?” I heard a voice I didn’t at least vaguely recognize, so I figured it was the voice of the new man who had just entered the room.
“Yes, my lord, she is an excellent candidate. We didn’t have too much struggle releasing her from her family.”
“Wonderful. It’s as I always say, use the trash to dispose of the trash.”
Trash? I didn’t understand why I was being referred to in so derogatory a manner, but I stayed quiet. I feared that if I even made the slightest sound, a fate much worse than anything I could imagine would inevitably befall me.
“We’ve confirmed that her mother did indeed have filthy, demon blood running through her veins and now this child too, has the same blood.”
“It cannot be helped, I suppose. We have no other use for her. Start up the machines, we’ll begin testing immediately.”
I felt my heart rise into my throat, I didn’t know what machines they were referring to or what they would do to me, but if these were the same machines that did the damage that the other children had suffered, I had no hope in the slightest. I mumbled through my gag that I wanted my mother and wanted to go home, where I knew I’d be safe and sound, surrounded by people I knew cared very much about me, unlike these men.
“Your mother isn’t coming for you now, rat. You just sit there and suffer like all the rest of them did. Fallen scum!” I felt a rough hand come into contact with my skin and then a residual sting, which only made the already flowing tears fall faster. I heard some laughter from the others, then the prick of a few needles entering my skin. I instantly began squirming around in a vain attempt to pull them loose from my skin by some sort of miracle, but it was to no avail. More and more restraints were placed on my body while one of the men retold the story of how the child before me had wiggled around so much when warned not to, that the machine had literally torn him to bits. Upon hearing this, I slowly stopped moving, not wanting my life to end, though that seemed inevitable, through a meat grinder effect.
“Now, now, there’s a good girl. Just sit quietly and let the medicine take its effect.”
All I could do was nod slowly and wait for death to come, something I knew was a next to inescapable side effect of whatever I was being injected with. I felt heavy weights press down onto my body, already weakened by the medication coursing through my veins, and the clank of rusty blades practically deafened me, it was so sudden. The next few minutes of my life became the longest that ever passed. I felt my vision, though already darkened, significantly blur. My head spun quickly until I was taken in by a deep sleep, and in some sort of out of body experience, mirroring the effects of sleep paralysis. I knew this was a dream, wherever I was, but it felt so real, so immersive. I ended up in a dark, dank place, surrounded by bloody bricks, chains, and other various instruments of torture. The smell was nearly too much for me to handle, and combined with the illusion of decomposing flesh, my stomach churned. I struggled onto my feet, the little strength I had rushing to my head which was trying to make sense of everything that had transpired today alone. Once my courage had been gathered, I slowly progressed down the long hall winding in front of me. I didn’t know where I was going but I knew that I needed to keep moving, fearing the worst if I stayed in one spot for too long. The silence in that place was unholy, and I had a hard time deciphering whether I found it comforting or unnerving. More and more doors passed me as I hurried along, my legs feeling as if they could give it out at any moment. All at once, a creature unlike I had ever seen before jumped up against the bars, knocking me off balance.
“Didn’t you know that I eat little girls?!” It screeched at me as I gave a scream of my own, backing up into another set of filthy, rusty bars. Another creature grabbed me by the throat, vigorously shaking me, rattling me like I was nothing more than a ragdoll. Both howled in delight, reveling in my suffering as their own personal victory. I begged and pleaded for it to let me go, my small voice cracking under the pressure. It gave a maniacal laugh in response, the stench of its rancid breath threating to relieve me of the delicious breakfast I enjoyed with my mother merely hours earlier. I longed to be back home, with my brother, sister, mother, and father, where everything was secure. I loathed my own selfish desires to be free, now wishing that I was a plain child who barely raised a word against anyone. I fed my own strength with the prospect of being able to return and apologize to those I loved for abandoning than and somehow, I managed to break free from the creature by relentlessly pounding its moldy hands with my own tiny fists. I ran as fast as I could the moment I was free, tears stinging in my eyes, perpetually blurring my vision. Next thing I knew, I tripped and fell over my own feet, rousing all manner of monsters from their resting places in the dark with the thud. One by one, they gathered around me, breaking free from their horrid imprisonments, and being defenseless, I just screamed. Beyond my own petrified screams, I heard cackles, cackles of those horrible, heartless men, and their king.
“Feed! Feed on her!” One voice boldly declared, and all the monsters, clearly starved of the human flesh they so desperately craved, dug their claws, talons, fangs, anything sharp into my tender skin. As small as I was, will all the pain I was experiencing, all I could wish for was to wake up, wake up and hope that this was all some awful hallucination I had slipped into after watching a late night horror movie. I would wake up safe in my bed, probably scared, but my mother would come to my room, whisk me up into her arms, and sing me lullabies until I fell under the Sandman’s spell once more. I had part of my wish fulfilled, and with a start, I roused from their monsters’ grasp, and into darkness. I still had the blindfold on, though the gag had come loose. I screamed and screamed continuously, hoping the door would open and my mother would be there, embracing me, allowing me to listen to her steady heartbeat. After I voided my stomach of its contents, I listened and was met with, in response, satisfied chuckles.
“Phase one complete, my lord. I’d say with confidence that despair has settled into her heart and will be manifested in a way most pleasing.” I could feel his grin even through the blindfold, just by hearing the way he spoke with sickening pleasure.
“I had certainly hoped so,” I felt a presence lean down by my ear, his breath sending shivers down my spine. “Don’t you understand Priscilla? You’re a very special little girl. Most children would never have woken up from that dream and would’ve been devoured by the monsters. You were able to escape. Do you know what that means?” I just shook my head, unable to do much else.
“It means you’re perfect. It means that you’ll defend this Heaven from the people who try to steal our home away from us. It means your life that should have never been can have a purpose. Alright?” I asked in a very shaky tone what he meant by defending Heaven and why I was deemed to have no purpose otherwise.
“You see Priscilla, your mother is of filthy demon blood and your father is an angel, pure like us. That means our blood, born of God’s good graces is tainted with the depths of Hell. We simply can’t allow trash like that to roam among us, well, unless they were sentient. I have a purpose for you Priscilla, and I’ll be your only master, remember that. There isn’t anything else for you in this world, not even your family will take you back now. You’re no longer the little girl that they raised. It’s either accept and live with a shred of decency or refuse and die. It’s your choice.” I heard heavy ornamentation jingle as he backed away, so I figured the man who came in later than all the others was the one speaking to me, and that he was also the “lord” the others were referring to. I didn’t understand, he was the “lord”, the man my mother said gave me a miraculous gift by means of these wings and that he loved us all. Why would he call me trash? Why would he say such horrible things about my mother? I admitted to the man that I loved my family and had not doubt in my mind that they would love me no matter what. However, for the purposes of preserving my own life, I told him that I would take him up on his offer. I could feel the astonishment in the room; I was either the first to make this far or the first to accept.