The drone of the newscaster blathering on about another break-in at a nearby neighborhood couldn’t distract Sera from the salty taste of Isaac’s mouth. Their night of watching a documentary about angels—Isaac’s choice—had quickly turned into a make-out session.
Isaac’s body froze next to Sera and their lips parted. “I thought your parents weren’t coming home until tomorrow,” he whispered, his breath tickling her face.
Sera untangled her legs from his and reached for the TV remote. “They’re not.”
She hit the mute button. Her ears rang with the sudden silence. She didn’t think her parents had come home early, but she kept her voice low. “It was probably just the neighbor’s car door.”
She snuggled back up to him. He scooted into a sitting position and pulled her close so her head rested on his chest. “The show’s back on,” he said. “I wanna watch the rest.”
Sera sighed. Clearly the moment was ruined. She had struggled to tolerate Isaac’s recent obsession with angels. He swore he’d spotted one in her yard a few nights ago. He thought it might be his guardian angel. Sera did her best not to insult him about the whole thing, but angels, really? She didn’t buy any of it.
Still, laying on the couch with Isaac’s arm slung around her and the subtle rise and fall of his chest under her head felt nice, comfortable. She played with the silver cross around her neck as she relaxed into him.
The crash of shattering glass startled Sera to her feet. Isaac stood, eyes wide with excitement. She was trying to keep from shaking and Isaac practically danced with eagerness. What was wrong with him?
This time the noise definitely sounded like it came from inside the house. He grabbed her arm and dragged her to the door of the family room, shielding her with his body. “I think I know what it is,” he whispered.
Sera’s arm tingled where he gripped it. The sensation washed over her and roused her senses. Catching Isaac’s enthusiasm, she silently bounced on her toes in anticipation of what awaited them on the other side of the door. The veins on his knuckles stood out against his pale skin as he turned the doorknob.
Unnatural blue-white light flooded the hallway, nearly blinding Sera. Isaac’s hand left her arm and found her fingers. He squeezed her hand so hard it hurt, but she channeled the pain into bravery.
Thwump! Thwump! Thwump!
Cold air rushed down the hall and through the open doorway, whishing through Sera’s hair. Isaac led her into the hallway, their sock-covered feet silent on the hardwood floor. Blinded by the light, she had no idea how Isaac could see where he was going, but she followed the pull of his hand anyway.
Isaac stopped suddenly and she bumped into him. Darting shadows broke up the light in an uneven pattern, allowing Sera to see they had reached the kitchen doorway. The thwumping sound ceased and she strained to hear any noise to hint at what was in the kitchen.
The light blinked off long enough for Sera to catch a glimpse of Isaac peering around the edge of the doorway. He turned and held a finger to his lips in an unnecessary reminder to stay silent. His strong arm held her against the wall as he slowly stepped over the threshold.
Thwump! Thwump! Thwump! Thwump!
The rush of wind came stronger this time, and blue-white light blinded Sera once more. She heard gunfire and a gasp, and Isaac’s arm went limp. She sensed his body falling. Her arms wrapped around his torso. His body, too heavy for her, fell to the ground and Sera went along with it.
Warm, sticky liquid seeped onto her shirt. A hand—Isaac’s she realized—rested on the back of her neck and guided her ear to his mouth. She still couldn’t see him, but she managed to support his head with her arms.
His breath was a whisper on her skin. “Not mine…yours.” He quietly gasped for air. “Silver…your cross…will protect you.” She turned cold as his breath stopped and his head became dead weight in her arms.
Sera gently placed Isaac’s head on the floor. Tears, as well as the light, blinded her now. The thwumping started up again, beating out a continuous rhythm. The relentless wind swept the tears from her cheeks and threw her hair wildly about.
She grabbed the silver cross hanging around her neck and gave a swift tug. The chain broke easily. Sera cocked her hand back and hurled the cross into the kitchen. A loud thump vibrated the floorboards under her feet. The light vanished and all was silent.
A bark of laughter rang out as Sera’s eyes adjusted to the lowlight. A disheveled man with one roaming eye stood in front of the kitchen island. He pointed a gun at Sera. A figure lay crumpled at his feet.
An angel. A large wing covered the lower half of the angel’s face. The wing gave one last feeble thwump before laying still. Its eyes sparkled the blue of a tropical ocean, defying its lifeless posture. A burn in the shape of a cross marred the angel’s perfect cheek.
Sera blinked, confused. What had she done? She looked from the man, to the angel, to Isaac.
The man laughed so hard it turned to a cough. He recovered before Sera could think to move and he reached her in several long strides. He grabbed her hair and smiled, showing off a large gap in his front teeth.
“Thanks, sweetheart,” he said. “It almost had me, but then you came along and took care of it.”
As he dragged her by the hair to the back of the house, Sera’s screams echoed in the hallway, but no one else was alive to hear them.
Katie L. Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits stories, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. WHEN ANGELS DIE is a short story she created for the Halloween season. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy called ELIXIR BOUND, is available from MuseItPublishing. To learn more about Katie visit her website at www.katielcarroll.com.