The sun caught upon feathered wings in shining bronze. Contrary to the laws of physics, the creature swooped and pirouetted, dove and rose in a manner belying any thoughts of metallic weight. I shaded my eyes as it banked between a gully in the massif, citrine waves of light rippling across the mountainside in its wake. So much beauty in isolation was a thing of waist, or so I tried to convince myself, my fingers tightening about the net with which I would capture it.
When they’d told me the creatures roamed the northern heights, I had thought them mad. I wanted to believe, of course, desired it even, but my sole goal upon accepting their money for capturing one was just that: to take their money. I left them with a smile upon my face, those desperate villagers watching me leave from behind their accursed doors and windows. They were so convinced, so utterly sure that just one of the winged beasts could change their fortunes. I knew them wrong, of course. There was only one thing that brought wealth to the wealth-less and that was from hard work. Those idiots had forgotten that you only get out what you put in, no more, nor less. They had put their misled trust in a rogue and a scallywag. But, still, I was intrigued.
Two days after leaving those imploring eyes, having traipsed over some of the most torrid terrain I had ever witnessed, I arrived; the flyers were their. Not quite eagle, not quite woman, they traced the outlines of the thermals with eyes that knew eternity. I would know that same eternity, too. I had to. If not, eternity would be lost to a man bereft of the morality others took for granted. There was no place in heaven for a man like me. Not unless I could trick my way inside, that was.
The hike over the morass would have killed a lesser man, the climb up the sheer cliffs destroyed any other, but determination possessed me, or madness, I’m not quite sure which? Eventually, hidden behind a boulder of loose scree, I waited for my prize net in one hand and sword in the other.
It did not take long. The creatures were inquisitive unused to anything out of the ordinary. One of the beasts fluttered down from above to take the shiny, green apple that I had set out for them. No sooner had the thing grasped it, than I pulled upon the net strings and captured the uncapturable.
My laughter echoed around the mountains at the ease of which I had taken both purse and prize. The creature was mine. I would never return to those who initiated my hunt. Fools.
Flourishing my sword in the ruby sunset, I flaunted my brilliance before the thing. That was my first mistake; I looked upon it. There are those who think they know upset, distress, even the misery of death. They know nothing. For as the creature lifted her head, and yes, IT was a SHE, and stared into my eyes with a pain that tore my very soul from its corporal shell, I shared a fraction of HER hurt. There was no ferocity in HER manner, no madness just a reluctant acceptance to HER posture. When SHE spoke, I wished to turn the sword upon myself, but could not, for I was weakling and the true fool.
“Kill me,” SHE whispered. “For I am a fallen angel and seek that which I cannot take myself.”
I held my head unable to speak.
“Kill me,” SHE breathed. “For I have seen a golden eternity and lost it. Now I soar but never feel, see but never know, wish but never dream. Kill me, I am yours to murder.”
I am not proud of what I did, as I look back upon my sin. There is nothing but a darkness left within me since that day. I have become a hollow man, an empty vessel, a washed out being. For, you see, I left HER. I turned my back on that once angel and walked away. If I could have thrown myself from those cliffs, I should have. I could not. To hear the rustling of those iridescent feathers beating in frustrated living, not death, almost finished me. I think that is why SHE cursed me with a share of HER hurt. I carry it close to my heart. It is a knowledge that there is a holy light that emits from behind two golden gates, and the realisation that I shall never ever know it for myself. I am a hurt man. I am dead man walking. I am yet another ghost of eternity.