This challenge,” shouted Mr Rossiter into the breeze, “carries the maximum point score. Naturally, health and safety are our primary concerns. Don’t want any fatalities, now do we? Wouldn’t be good for our reputation. In the sea below are two highly experienced divers. They know these waters and these cliffs like the back of their hands. They are holding yellow floats to denote the landing area. You aim to drop between these markers, all right?”
Morgan tried to speak but all that emerged from his mouth was a gargled dribble.
“Don’t look so worried, Lane,” the master croaked close to Morgan’s ear. “Plenty have done this before you. Try to dive out and upwards, straighten out and plunge. If you can’t do that then jump feet first with your arms stretched above your head. Oh, and don’t forget to hold your breath.”
“Hope you’ve made your will, Lane,” laughed Barker from behind.
“Good luck, Morgan,” cried Deborah, her voice fluttering in the sea breeze like a summer shower of butterflies. Mr Rossiter tapped Morgan on the shoulder encouragingly.
Morgan shuffled forward until his toes reached the crumbling cliff edge. Inside his wet suit sweat burst from his pores and his limbs began to tremble. He glanced down at the two hundred foot drop. Like corks bobbing in the silky black water he could just make out two yellow blobs. He couldn’t do it. He would have to risk ignominy and failure and be the butt of Barker’s jibes for the rest of the week. No, he would leave early. He would rip off this stupid wet suit and flee with hot tears flowing back to his room, pack his bags and head for the station.
That’s when the Morgan heard the voice.
Mr Rossiter, Barker, Deborah and the whole headland appeared to recede down a long, brightly lit tunnel.
Morgan had read about people who heard voices. They were mostly mad as bats in a maze. He shook his head to try and rid himself of the weird intrusion. But this voice was distinctive and hard to ignore. It spoke his name softly but urgently.
“Morgan, I have been sent to help you.”
If this was madness then how come he felt perfectly normal? The voice sounded as though someone or something was standing right next to him.
“Morgan, you are not mad, believe me.”
Morgan stood without moving, staring into waves. The voice was real despite its existence being totally impossible.
“Who are you?” he grunted hoarsely under his breath, half inclined to laugh at his own stupidity.
The voice seemed to sigh as if what it said next would be even more unbelievable.
“I am an angel, Morgan. My name is Oriel.”
Morgan spluttered, choking back laughter. “Angel? Don’t be ridiculous,” he muttered. “Stress more like. Come on,” he urged himself, “get a grip,”
“The Guardians have sent me, Morgan. It is time to prepare for the quest.”
The voice was so insistent and distinctive. It didn’t feel like an hallucination.
“The time is upon us, Morgan. Look into the sky”.
Morgan didn’t believe in angels. He only believed in whatever could be proven by experiment or by design. The existence of angels wasn’t logical. So, where had the voice come from? Whatever it was, it surely wasn’t some disembodied spiritual entity. It had to be some deep part of his subconscious trying to inject much needed courage into his veins. He slowly looked up into a sky where strips of cloud were being carried on a higher wind.
A large blob of orange light caught his attention. It was distinctly brighter even than the watery sun. It was probably some kind of military aircraft. But, something about the intensity of the light and the way it seemed to be focusing on him and entering deeply inside him caused Morgan to doubt his perfectly reasonable explanation.
Of course. How could he have forgotten? The comet Cygnus Hyperbole was world news. For a crazy moment he imagined it was the comet with the weird name that was talking to him.
Suddenly he wavered, his legs rubbery as he felt his balance shifting. A cold fear the like of which he had never experienced turned his insides into a feverish mush. He hated Barker at that moment with an intensity that made him want to scream. But it was he, Morgan Lane, who was standing precariously on a two hundred foot cliff preparing to jump and not the rich, egotistical oaf behind him. So, who was the smart one now?
High above the sea, Morgan began to rock to and fro and as he did so a blanket of warm, breathily scented air suddenly enveloped him filling him to the brim with hope and courage. Some powerful outside force was at work but he could not define or locate it. He was all at once immersed in a joyous protective embrace. The mesmeric angel’s voice penetrated deep into Morgan’s inner being.
“Believe in me, Morgan. Believe.”
Imbued with a sudden and ecstatic injection of utter trust in this strange force, Morgan stood on his toes and extended his arms as though they were wings made of gossamer. He felt light and aerated, his very blood corpuscles floating like bubbles of lighter-than-air gas. Smiling and looking down, he jumped.
He could feel himself supported by an intangible power as he glided in a perfect arc like a bird of prey riding the thermals. The angel’s voice reassured him, bathing him with hope and belief.
“I have you in my arms. The Guardians have chosen you, Morgan. You will come to no harm.”
Morgan began to accelerate. Suddenly, gravity was no longer an academic subject to be studied in the physics lab he realized that now it was too late. It was all too real. As he fell, his fifteen-and-a-half years of life played themselves out like a newsreel. He was filled with love for his parents despite being first a little tearaway then later an obsessive recluse and driving them to distraction. He was acutely aware of his strengths and his weaknesses and his many shortcomings and failures. But right then, as he plummeted toward the waves, he accepted everything about his life as being the way it was destined to be.
Morgan experienced time slowing, elongating then stopping altogether.
The disembodied angel voice seemed to be controlling time itself; enough to whisper to him as he fell.
“I am Oriel, the last Sun Angel in the multiverse. I will be your guide on the quest that is to come.”
“You are to be the bearer of the Cosmic Algorithm, Morgan. The time of the Vanishing is approaching.”
“The second Creation is coming to your world.”
“I will be with you in your time of need.”
Images blurred, whizzing past his vision. Racing up towards him at incredible speed were the two yellow blobs that marked the dive spot. He entered the water with hardly a splash cradled by powerful, invisible arms. He bobbed up spluttering and euphoric and received the thumbs-up from the two divers swimming towards him.
He’d conquered his fear. But, he had had some help. He listened for the voice of the angel as he floated upon the breaking waves. He wanted to say thank you.
But the angel had gone.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish