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rose colored

Oh, Charlie!

At first, when Bren slipped on the rose-colored glasses, everything just looked a shade of pink. However, the longer Brenzel looked at Charlie, something truly wonderful happened. Charlie, still playing, transformed into a perfect vision of himself, complete with a set of six small angelic wings, three on each shoulder. Gossamer in translucence, pale blue in color, Charlie’s wings seemed as natural on his small frame as if he’d been born with them.

“Oh Charlie, you’re so beautiful!” Bren exclaimed again, “He’s an angel!” she finished, unable to take her eyes off him.

Traveler, looking at Charlie through his own set of rose-colored glasses said, “No, not quite, he’s much more than that.”

Bren, still transfixed by her small friend, questioned softly, “Then what is he?”

Rose-colored glasses

Traveler explained, “He’s a Seraph.”

Brenzel, suddenly realizing what that meant for her said, “Oh my God, is that why?”

“Yes,” Traveler said, “that is why you are a Seraph Hunter. You hunt Seraphs, not to harm them, but to save them.”

Still amazed, Bren said, “What is a Seraph? Can you tell me more?”

“Well,” Traveler said, we don’t have much time, but the short answer is, “Seraphs are the highest order of angels, and many have such special destinies that, if they choose good, they can change eternity in significant ways. Charlie, the one you helped save, is one of those Seraphs that will change the world for good.”

“Oh my God, that is incredible, to help someone so precious…I’m so honored.”

Looking at an ornate pocket watch, Traveler said, “Now it’s time to say goodbye, Bren,” as Charlie noticed her standing at the edge of the garden. Skipping over to where she stood, Charlie hugged her tightly saying, “I know you have to go.”

“How? Who told you that?” Bren asked as she removed her goggles.

“Your friend, that nice man, told me,” he offered, as he pointed to Traveler. “I’m sad, but I know you have to help other boys, too,” as he held her still tighter.

“I’ll always remember you, Charlie,” Bren said, not quite sure what to say to her young friend as her heart ached.

I’ll always love you too, Bren, we’re friends forever.”

A time to leave

Bren felt an inner awareness that it was time to leave. Stepping back from Charlie, she put the blue feather in her hat and as she did, Charlie’s eyes grew wide as saucers, gasping as he put both of his small hands to his mouth. Then she was gone.

Traveler, standing by the small boy, put his hands on his slight shoulders. Charlie, looking up at him, exclaimed “She’s so beautiful!”

Traveler, smiling at his little cherub friend, said, “Yes, I agree with you Charlie, she is beautiful. Don’t worry, you’ll see her again.”

Feather in her cap, the world moved past Bren at a dizzying pace, as she seem to fly past houses, cities, and whole countrysides. This time, not as surprised by the whole business, Bren looked up and saw the sky, a vast expanse of light blue, the kind that you see on a clear summer’s day.

Suddenly, just as before, everything stopped. The first thing Bren noticed was a stench, like blood or decaying animal flesh, that hit her nostrils, causing her to nearly retch. Secondly, Bren looked up towards the sound of a roaring in the sky, seeing something dark, like a cross, moving slowly through the air towards her. Staring, Brenzel saw something drop from it. A whistling noise accompanied it, growing louder and lower, followed by a thunderclap as the ground shook.

Bren heard Rata ta ta tat, rata ta tat, as little puffs of dust sprang up near her. “Ma’am!” yelled a voice as Bren fell to the ground, tackled by a young man in green. Dazed, the wind nearly knocked out of her, Brenzel struggled to get the man off of her.

“Let…me…go!” she yelled as the man let her up.

“Sorry, ma’am, but you’re too close to the front, we’ve got to get you out of here!”

Ah, Mud!

France – 1918

Looking down at her clothes, which seemed to be very similar to the green outfit worn by the man who tackled her, she saw mud covering her from head to toe. As she tried to stand once again, the strong soldier forced her down.

“Are you crazy?! You must be shell shocked or somethin!” the man said as he pulled her near his face looking directly into her eyes. “Look Lady, you’re gonna get us both killed if you don’t listen to me good. When I say go, we both get up and run for that trench over there as fast and as low as we can. Got it?” Bren simply nodded. Looking furtively around, the soldier shouted “Go!” as they dashed across the battlefield while bullets whizzed past them.

Out of breath, Bren leaned up against the side of the trench. Looking at her with concern, was a brown haired soldier that looked much too young to be in a war. “Hey, my name’s Sam,” grinned her boyish hero as he stuck out his hand. “Wow lady, I thought we almost bought the farm! Glad we made it through, what were you doing out there anyways?” Sam quizzed.

“I’m…uh…new here.” Bren stammered.

“Ain’t we all.” he quipped. “Don’t do that again, they’ve got German snipers out there that will blow your head clean off! I’ve got to go and rejoin my company, hope you will be alright here.” Looking around at the other soldiers he added, “Don’t mind these gravel alligators, they won’t bother you. Here’s my canteen if you’re thirsty.” Pausing just a moment as he looked at her, Sam advised, “When you pull yourself together, look for Doc, she’ll fix you up! Remember, keep your head down!” he said over his shoulder as he made his way down the narrow trench.

Gravel Alligators

That overpowering stench, first making her want to vomit, filled this ugly place, too. Smells she had never imagined, acrid cordite from exploding shells, lingering poison gas diluted by air to non-lethal concentrations, ever present cigarettes, soldiers unable to bathe regularly, and of course rotting flesh of the dead.

A lone soldier kept watch towards what Bren assumed was the battle, as various other men slept in odd positions. What she assumed were explosions, kept following that same whistling, shaking the ground again and again. Here and there, rolls of wire, with nasty looking barbs on them, sat like squat cacti in the mud.

The view from above

Above the trench, what Bren did not know, could not know, was the extent of the conflict she’d been dropped into. In Europe, trenches lined the western front for over 30,000 miles (if linked end to end), separated by two intractable armies. Each over one million strong, these opposing forces, engaged in a bitter fight to the death, often killing tens of thousands of men on both sides in a single battle. In dead of night, teams of men laid over a million miles of barbed wire in no-man’s-land as quietly as possible, dodging bullets from the enemy lines only a few hundred yards away.

Endless trains of pack mules, laden with large brass shells, fed the front’s war machine. Artillery relentlessly lobbed them at the enemy, sometimes blowing entire battalions to smithereens. Back in the trench, one of those high-pitched whistles sounded alarmingly close, and, not 300 feet from Bren, blew up sending shrapnel and dirt in every direction.

1918

Stunned by the explosion, Bren heard a ringing in her ears as everything moved in slow motion. Instinctively, Bren ran towards the chaos, as others were doing. Arriving at the carnage, a woman shouted, “Nurse! This man’s bleeding out!” Before Brenzel had time to object, the woman pressed Bren’s palm on the blood-stained uniform of a wounded soldier. The doctor, a serious looking woman with bobbed hair, quickly bandaged her patient up tightly, bundling him in a stretcher as two men lifted and carried him off down the trench.

Bren, coming to her senses, caught the woman’s sleeve, demanding, “What year is it?”

Annoyed, the woman looked at her saying, “1918. Now, pull yourself together Seraph Hunter and follow me!”

SEOISB.