"Monarch is night of all eldest things,
He walked around Philip to the center of the room, his arms upraised towards the red sky. Philip heard a cry that pierced his soul. It was the cry of beasts. There was a rumbling underneath Philip. He looked to see three men and a woman walked into the remains of the grand foyer. They were angelic, yet Philip could see that their souls were putrid and rotten. Philip stood up weakly, and faced the five Fallen Angels. He walked stalwartly into the center of them.
He called out their names, "Astarte, Queen of Hell. Memoch, the foul. Beezelbub, the Lord of the Flies. Dagon, the Destroyer." Looking at what was Father Blake, Philip said, "And Belial, the Lord of Beasts." The Fallen Angels seemed pleased at the sound of their names, which was not what Philip expected.
Memoch cried out, "You think if you call our names we'll run back to Hell?" He laughed loudly. The sound pained Philip's ears.
He began to scream prayers at them. Belial was distracted by Philip's screaming. Therefore he didn't see Ethan rush forward. Astarte howled and caught Ethan by the hair. She shoved his head into a crumpled wall. Ethan left a trail of blood down the wall as he slid to the ground.
Philip stood paralyzed with fear when a voice called out his name and snapped him out of it. He rushed to the body half buried by the rubble. "Derek," Philip cried. Belial and the others began to chant. Derek grabbed Philip's hand.
"Only you can," he said hoarsely. "Only you can stop this, Philip," Derek begged him. Derek's eyes widened in horror. Philip turned around to see Dagon tear the door of the study out of his way. He heard Kat's terrified cries and watched as Dagon walked in to the study after her.
"GOD! NO!" Philip cried.
Dagon flew out of the room and hit the wall with force, the door slamming shut behind him. He got up off the ground and growled, looking at Philip. He suddenly had the feeling he was being lifted off the ground as Beezelbub lifted him up and threw him into the ground by Belial's feet. The pain that exploded through Philip's body was the worst he had ever felt in his life.
Astarte screamed, "String the priest up! He dies first!"
Philip again had the feeling of being lifted up when he cried, "WAIT!" Dagon grabbed him by the neck.
"You aren't going to plead for your miserable life are you, Priest?" he asked. Philip smiled at Dagon, prompting him to drop Philip on the ground.
"You can't kill me," Philip said harshly, "Azrael has fled this earth, taking Death with him, what can you do to me?" Philip broke out laughing, hysterically. Belial laughed with him. The other Fallen Angels looked at Belial in confusion.
"We have no need of Azrael, Priest. Hell has it's own Angel of Death!" Belial cried. Astarte smiled with wicked joy and turned her face to the ground and called out. Philip pulsated with fear when he heard the name of Abaddon resounding through the air. The ground rumbled beneath them. Philip took the chance to scramble out of the way and over to Derek.
"Philip!" Derek cried, "what have you done?"
"I forgot about Abaddon," Philip yelled, "the Angel of Hell chained by God to be unleashed by Him onto the wicked on Judgment Day!"
"Terrific," Derek moaned. Philip looked at him and saw in Derek's eyes a blank stare. The stare of a man whose hope and faith had left him.
"No, Derek," Philip pleaded, "don't give up, please-" Philip was interrupted by rough hands that seized the back of his shirt and hauled him to the center of the room. The Fallen Angels gathered around him. Philip looked up and watched as Abaddon appeared before him.
"Wearied arm, and broken sword
"Osiris, you have gone away,
"He heard an odd noise, as though of a whirring...and when he strained for a wider view, he could have sworn he saw a dark figure born aloft on a pair of strong black wings." -Bernard Malamud, "Angel Levine"
Philip closed his eyes and began to pray as hard as he ever had, when there grew an overbearing atmosphere around them all. Philip opened his eyes as soon as he heard the breathing. A raspy, heavy breathing that grew louder with each breath.
Abaddon and the others backed away from Philip when a voice called out, "Leave him."
Philip turned around and saw a young man standing before him, the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, male or female. The man walked towards him. The closer he got, the more fear gripped Philip by the heart. He knew, without reason, that this was the Devil himself.
"Hello, Father Callaghan," said the Devil. "I've waited so long to meet you."
Philip stared at him, dumbfounded. The Devil snapped at his angels.
"What have you done to my young priest?" he asked them. He walked up to Belial, who cowered with fear. "No harm must come to him," the Devil ordered. He turned and walked back to Philip, extending his hand. Philip didn't take it, he stared at the Devil in quiet fear.
"Please," the Devil said, "Take my hand."
Philip did not budge so the Devil gently picked him up. He glanced at Derek, who was paralyzed with fear. He asked the Devil, "You said you've waited to meet me, why?"
The Devil smiled warmly at Philip and replied, "Because I have seen you so often in my dreams. I've been asleep for a long time, but I dreamed. I've seen in those dreams, the world evolve to the state it's in. And I've seen your soul countless times, fighting for God and for man. Your lives before were meaningless before you met the Son of God. But that changed you. You've been a priest in every one of your lives since. A worthy adversary of my dominion, but you're no match for me."
Philip said nothing. The Devil continued, speaking in a warm and soothing voice.
"That's why I've come for you, Philip. You can't possibly know what you're up against. It would be a shame to have to put you down, when you could be so useful to me," the Devil told him. He took a few steps closer to Philip who backed away.
"Philip, please," the Devil said, "in a few moments I'm going to unleash Abaddon to do as he wishes. I can save you and you're friends. You'd all be welcome in my world."
His answer came not from Philip, but from Nick, who had awakened just in time to see the Devil make his grand appearance. The Devil turned on him.
"Shame on you," he said, "Using such language in front of a priest."
Philip looked at the Devil and repeated Nick's colorful answer. The Devil smiled at him. Turning back to Nick, he said, "You know, you're in awfully bad shape. Looks like both your legs are broken." The Devil put his hand down on Nick's leg and squeezed. The young man roared in pain.
"STOP IT!" Philip cried.
"Philip," the Devil said. He left Nick reeling from the pain. "I can save him. You only have to say the words. There's so much I can teach you. So much you don't know. I can save your friends, or I can destroy them. It's your choice."
"He called so loud, that all the hollow deep of Hell resounded."
"Thus he grieved in every part.
"It stood thus in our stars when we were born,
Philip answered the Devil with prayer. The Devil walked over to him and placed his hand on Philip's wounded shoulder. Philip winced but did not cry out.
"I will not ask you again, Philip" said the Devil. His voice was so soft and calm. Philip began to pray even harder. The Devil turned and said, "Abaddon, kill the child."
Before Philip could respond, a bright light appeared in front of the study door.
"You!" Dagon screamed at the light, "you threw me out!"
The light began to take form until Philip found himself looking at Ethan's stranger and Kat's friend.
"You will not harm this child," he said. The Devil, slightly annoyed, crossed his arms and walked forward.
"Hero of God. The Angel of Revelation. Destroyer of Sodom and Gomorrah," the Devil said, stopping just in front of the angel.
"You cannot interfere!" Belial snarled. The Devil turned and with a slight movement flung Belial across the room. "Mind your tongue! You are talking to an archangel!" the Devil yelled at him Philip dropped down to his knees at the sight. The Devil turned back and looked at the glowing being in front of him. "Gabriel," he said, "It's been a long time."
"Indeed," Gabriel replied.
"Why are you here? I thought He wasn't going to intervene," the Devil said.
"He will not," said Gabriel.
"He sent you, didn't he?" asked the Devil.
"No. I came for the child. You know how special she is. I have no plans to interfere with you," Gabriel told him.
"In the name of God," Philip cried out, "help us! Do something!"
The angel flew over to Philip, hovering above him. Gabriel said, with great pain, "I cannot. You have brought this upon yourselves."
The Devil smiled and said, "Take the child and go, Gabriel. The priest belongs to me."
Gabriel laid his hand on Philip's shoulder and kissed his forehead. At that moment it all came crashing down on Philip. He felt horrible pain and agony, not physical pain. Gabriel had healed him of his wounds. He felt emotional anguish. He felt God's pain. The pain of a Father who has lost his children. The grief was so overwhelming that Philip let loose a howl that no demon or beast could ever match. The Devil's angels watched in bewilderment. The Devil watched in silence.
"A good man, though his striving be obscure,
"Do not fear, only believe."
"With thee it came and goes: but follow me,
"I know," sobbed Philip, "I know now, oh God, I know!"
The archangel turned back into a ball of light and floated over to the study and through the door. The light seeped through the crack in the floor and then disappeared.
The Devil bent over Philip, who was on his knees, sobbing. "Philip," he said. "You must not feel so bad. You can't stop this. You never could. It was only a matter of time before you humans destroyed yourselves. Do yourself a favor and come with me."
"No," Philip said softly. The Devil shut his eyes.
"Abaddon," he said, "Kill one of them."
Philip said nothing as Abaddon walked over and struck Alex dead. Nick and Derek cried out. Philip's eyes watered and his face was twisted in pain. He stood up.
"Philip, your friends will ALL die. I'm asking you to spare their lives. All of you can join me. I can give all of you everything you ever wanted."
"No," Philip said again. The Devil nodded to Abaddon and the angel flew over and killed Ethan in less than seconds.
"Philip," said the Devil. "No," Philip replied. The Devil softly shook his head before motioning to Abaddon to continue.
Nick watched as the Dark Angel slowly walked up to him. He looked at Philip and smiled.
"Don't worry about me, Philip. I'm already gone," Nick said faintly. Philip's mind cried out as Abaddon killed Nick. Yet Philip stood his ground. He swallowed hard and fixed his eyes on the Devil.
"The woman, Rachel," the Devil began.
"Done," Abbadon replied with the wave of his hand.
Philip's remained still. Belial growled at him, "You're a fool, Priest."
"Kill him too," the Devil said, pointing to Derek. Derek leaned back as Abaddon turned on him.
"WAIT!" Philip cried. The Devil smiled.
"I knew you would change your mind," he said.
Philip smiled back at him. "There's just one thing I ask of you," he said to the Devil.
"Whatever you wish," the Devil replied.
"I want to kill Derek. Let me do it," Philip said. Belial laughed and produced a dagger for Philip, who took it and walked over to Derek. The Devil watched, intently.
Philip knelt before Derek and raised the dagger in the air.
"Do it," Derek said, softly. "Derek," Philip whispered, "Forgive me." Derek smiled at him.
"I already have." They were Derek's last words as Philip plunged the knife into his mentor's chest, killing him. Philip pulled the dagger out of Derek and stood up. He walked over to Belial and handed it back to him. He looked at the Devil.
Smiling, he said, "There. Now I have nothing to lose. And you have nothing to use against me."
The Devil's smile faded and anger took it's place.
"You WILL obey me!" he yelled.
"No," Philip said. "I obey God and no one else."
"Hypocrite! You let them all die! You murdered your own best friend!" Astarte shrieked.
"I would rather see my friends dead by my own hand than for them to be servant to you!" Philip screamed.
"Then let their deaths and the deaths of every man, woman and child be on YOUR head!" Beezelbub shouted.
"My friends have forgiven me. And so has God," Philip said. The Devil flew forward and stopped inches before Philip's face.
"You don't believe that, Philip. I know you don't.You said in your own words, there is no God," he said.
"Then why are you trembling so?" asked Philip. The Devil took a step back.
"You impudent, arrogant little man," he said. "You ARE a fool," the Devil said. Philip looked at him and closed his eyes, praying. The Devil and his angels screamed.
"He pays heed to your path with deep solicitude,
"Through many dangers, toils and snares,
"The Fiend looked up and knew
Philip opened his eyes and repeated the prayer, "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want...."
The Devil flew into a fury and lunged at Philip, who did not flinch. The Devil stopped just short of Philip. He screamed and shrieked at him. His face changed many times into anything that would torment Philip. Nick, Rachel, Alex, Derek, his brother, and finally, Ellen. Philip didn't even bat an eye.
Philip continued to pray. He called out, "'Therefore I say unto you, if ye have faith and doubt not, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, ye shall receive'!"
The Devil thrashed about the room, his angels howling in agony.
" 'For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord.'"
Philip saw that the Devil and his angels had turned from angels to beasts, their faces twisted in anguish. He stared the Devil down and said simply, "I believe in the Lord, our God. I do not believe in you."
There was a loud noise that sounded like fabric ripping as the Devil sank down into the earth. His angels watched in horror.
"What he did see was light: light from the Heavenly hosts as
they swept the sky clean from one end to the other..."
"In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,
Philip shielded his eyes from the bright light that suddenly engulfed the earth. He heard the sound of strong wings beating in the air. He opened up his eyes and saw before him the angels of God. Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Ramiel, Samiel and Razael formed a giant wall of light. Belial and the Fallen Angels shrieked and flew from the castle, God's angels close behind.
"Philip," a voice said. He turned and saw Gabriel, who was holding a sleeping Kat in his arms. Philip jumped at the sound of a great clash in the sky of angels dark and bright. The all of a sudden, the castle was exactly as it was before the earthquake. The sun had returned, the earth rejuvenated, and cities standing as they were.
Nick awoke as if from a dream, only to find himself staring at Philip and an angel. He sat up quickly. Derek helped him to his feet while Alex and her brother awoke. Rachel ran into the room and stopped as she saw the man with Kat, who had just woke up.
Philip's heart was warm with the sight of his friends. His family.
Gabriel handed Kat over to her mother. "All of you pay heed to what you have seen. You have been given a second chance, not by God, but by this man alone," he said, pointing to Philip, "Who had enough faith for all mankind."
Philip wept. Gabriel flew to him and said, "Weep not, for you have saved them all. It is up to man whether or not he remembers what has happened. All of you will, but the rest of mankind may not be strong enough. You must teach them to listen. You must show them the way. Hope and faith are the gifts God gave every man. You need only hold on to them."
"The Devil?" asked Philip.
"He is again in slumber. His angels bound. But do not underestimate him. The threat is still there," Gabriel answered. Then the archangel grew into a flaming light and left them.
One week later:
Derek sat in his office, going over a file for a dig in Africa they were planning. Philip tapped lightly on the door.
"Come in," Derek responded. Philip walked in and sat down.
"What is on your mind?" Derek asked. Philip's face gave him away and Derek picked up the sensation of extreme guilt.
"Philip, you had to let us die. It was the only way, you needed to be able to face him with nothing holding you back. You had to go through that. I know it must have been unbearable for you," Derek told him.
"Why do you think I killed you myself?" Philip asked. "I knew I wasn't strong enough to contain myself any longer. I figured that if I did it myself, if I had your forgiveness-" his voice trailed off. Derek left his chair and walked over to Philip. He placed his hand on Philip's shoulder.
"You KNOW I forgive you, Philip. We all do. Besides, I figured out what you were up to. You wouldn't have let us all die if you didn't have some sort of plan or strategy worked out," Derek said.
"I didn't, Derek," Philip told him. Derek's faced paled.
"Then how did you know that it would work?" asked Derek.
Philip smiled and said, "I had faith."
"I lie awake night after night
Lie down and die.
That were to shirk
Then stands in judgment on his soul,
Into the night.
Shall we in that great night rejoice?
-W.B. Yeats, from, "The Man And The Echo"
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