The scent of burning flesh filled my nostrils, screams echoed through the blistering air; the new arrivals had been sent into the first of many tests. Looking down at my feet, I saw one thing, lava from my waist down. It felt soothing on my pale skin so I welcomed it with open arms. Behind me stood a giant castle-like structure, made of a brown brick; my home. It was my family’s home. Clouds of ash and smoke gathered around it making it look superior. My Father sat on his throne, his smile widening after each echo, my Mother, Persephone, stood next to him with her hand on his shoulder, taking in the view. I had always adored the way that she wove black roses into her dark hair; it made her seem even prettier. Behind them, stood four hooded figures, each hood different coloured, massaging their index fingers upon which they wore four identical rings. They were grinning but not as much as Father. The black hooded figure stepped forward and uttered something into my Father’s ear. Suddenly, a small circle of light surrounded me forcing me into the lava. The strangers stared at me as the light had me trapped. They looked at each other, wondering whether or not to intervene.
“Father! Mother! Help me! Please!” My pleas were unnoticed as their attention was still locked on the screams of the new arrival.
“Please” I sobbed but once again, I was neglected. The light sent me further down into the lava, I was choking, choking on nothing, the lava could not harm me, was the harm even intended? I didn’t look over until I heard an almighty roar. It was one that would scare the living daylights out of anyone. Ultimate silence was achieved after the bellow; nothing moved or shuffled as far as sound was concerned. Through the gaps between my fingers, a white glow almost blinded me. A crowd of creatures with wings and halos gathered around me. One of them crept in front of me lifting my small head so I looked up toward it.
“Welcome, my child, welcome to the Gate of Heaven. I would like you to help us; we could use someone like you… Ember.” He spoke, the winged creature spoke, it was odd and mysterious; his voice, deep but like a member of a church choir, in tune. I took a step back in surprise; it knew my name. How strange. Looking around, I found that I wasn’t standing on the ground, but a cloud in the sky, above an icy sea. Behind me was a drop. There were no fences, nothing, just a straight drop into the blue water below. A giant cream wall lined with small candles on the battlements stood proudly, a Golden Gate next to it slammed shut, letting out an almighty crash of thunder. I stared back at the angels who looked away until one of them spoke again.
“We welcome you into our arms; we hope to know more about you, to learn as you help us. Any questions so far?” It asked, grinning.
“Good, I am Gabriel and this is Heaven. We hope it will exceed your expectations and before you ask, yes, it is the ‘real’ Heaven. So, Ember… Shall we proceed?” Shrugging, I was overwhelmed with the immense amount of information that Gabriel had crammed into that short a space of time. Other angels around us took to flight and soared over the giant wall. Gabriel walked in front of me with grace and confidence in each small step. I was wearing a dark leather jacket that contrasted with the bright and vibrant colours in my surroundings. Everything seemed to be the exact opposite of where I lived. A few seconds later, we reached the Golden Gate which opened and closed as someone entered or exited through it. In other words, every few seconds it would close and then open because a group of these strange, winged creatures would rush through, gossiping to each other about things like movies and video games. It was at this point that I realised that I really wanted to know what a movie was, what the difference was between sci-fi and action.
“Hang on, Gabriel. What are you? I’ve seen demons and humans but you don’t look anything like anything I’ve seen in my life.” He turned on the spot, his wings brushing the floor as he looked deeply into my eyes.
“They call us Angels, Ember. We were once humans but we were sent here. For example, think about where you come from, people arrive every second of the day, right?” Nodding, I was curious. I hadn’t heard that word before and it sounded weird hearing it for the first time. I looked back to my home. Upon hearing the screams of the newcomers, I guessed that was what Gabriel was asking me about.
“Yes, we get the same here. Y’ see, on Earth, people are dying every minute and it means that they get an afterlife, some of them go here, to Heaven and some of them go to Hell. We need you to help the new people up here. We need you to help them come to terms with the fact that they have earned an afterlife,” Gabriel explained. It was serious. I had no choice but to help them. The Golden Gate remained open as Gabriel walked through it. I was nervous as I stepped forward. I felt everyone’s eyes stop to see whether I could enter this divine place. As my toe crossed the line of where the Gate would close, I felt a gust of wind, violently forcing me back. As the Gate slammed shut, I was sent back to the cloud where I had first appeared in the circle of bright light. Gabriel flew over the Gate and landed beside me where he looked down at the soft, fluffy ground.
“I’m afraid the Gates have decided that you cannot enter our city, I’m sorry but you must understand that we cannot leave you down in Hell again.” The surprise jumped me. I shook with shock.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What? You cannot send me back. This is where I live. This is where my parents are, where will I go?”
“We can arrange something on Earth; you can go there and hopefully forget everything.”
“No, no. You can’t. You wouldn’t.” As I uttered the sentence, the light appeared again. This time, I wasn’t going to let it win. I launched my hand through the wall of light and it shattered like glass.
“No, you can’t send me to Earth. I. SAID. NO!” Small flickers and sparks appeared from my hand as if someone were lighting a fire. At the last second, a little orange flame appeared in the palm of my hand, as if it had been triggered by something. In my shock, I pulled my hand back into the cylinder of light and looked at it. The flame had disappeared and there was no trace of it, no scorch marks, nothing. The light used this distraction as an advantage, getting brighter until it dropped me in a strange area full of towering trees and shrubbery.