I’ve always found it easy to stay hidden. It’s being seen that’s the hard thing. I envy them, with their carelessness and their loud voices, their total comfort in this world. It was made for them, after all.
I envy that.
I watch from the shadow of St – I think – Ambrose, he of the scourge and the silent reading. Oh, yes; I remember him. In life, he was an uptight, sanctimonious creep, yet here he is, immortalised in stone and precious metal while I still stand, technically enfleshed, looking more or less the same as I did the day I appeared to him in his bedchamber. I let him think he banished me unto the Pit, but in reality I was simply bored. I found bigger fish, that day, someone with a soul so large she could have enveloped ten so-called saints inside it with room left over, despite its single stain.
She wept as I took her but I was young, then. I didn’t care. I had a job and I was doing it, and that was that.
I see them now, life bursting from every pore, the frantic spinning of atoms and molecules and the proliferation of cells and the humming hiss of blood, and I know that a thought would be enough. A simple thought, and their flow would suddenly freeze, or a cell divide slightly wrongly, or an electrical impulse go awry.
I am cold, dark matter; my heart beats, but only when it remembers to. My blood hasn’t stirred in centuries.
And so I watch. They laugh and take pictures, posing with their mouths open and their eyes wide, their laughter like shards of glass in my ears. I am here to take them, to destroy what I can and claim the rest, to lay waste, to burn what does not please Him… but still I watch.
They are moving off, arms around shoulders, warm kisses on warmer cheeks, fingers entwined, towards the old city. A straggler hesitates, capturing one last shot of the statue of St Mark, and I feel a pull in my muscles, an urge to take to the air and shred this bridge and all upon it with the force of my magnificence – but it’s surprisingly easy to swallow it back. The human gets to his feet again, stuffing his camera into its bag, before taking off after his friends, laughing as he runs.
He judges them too harshly. Flawed, yes, but irredeemable?
A pigeon lands on the head of the metal and gilt Ambrose and regards me coolly for a moment or two. Briefly, I consider reducing it to atoms, but I sigh, and it continues on its journey. As one winged thing to another, we pay our mutual respects.
I squint up at Ambrose’s impassive face and formulate a thought before turning away. A gust of heat wafts at my back, and I permit myself a moment of pride. As I walk, I picture the sun rising over this young, ancient city, and the confusion of the authorities as they try to figure out what could possibly have caused a huge metal statue to melt, and I almost smile. But I came to smite, and smite I have; let someone else worry about the technicalities.
I fold my wings tight and run my fingers through my hair. There must be somewhere in this city I can find a bar with a nice, shady corner and a server who asks no questions, I tell myself, as I vanish into the flow.