sees an Angel fall to Earth
Strange and fearful
noises in the night. Daroom! Daroom! Daroom!; a deep-down thunder
like an endless drum. Then a sharp splitting sound like the crack
of a whip: Kratt! Kratt! Kratt! The noises throbbed through the
earth and echoed across the sky.
There were voices
too. Eeeeeeeyah! A high-pitched scream passed over from horizon
to horizon. Then laughter broke out in hoots and whoops. And away
in the distance, grave booming words of incomprehensible giant speech:
'Mors et maleficiis!'
It was the worst
night in a long time. The People lay close together in their Dwelling-Place.
The walls of the derelict building surrounded them at the sides,
but there was no roof overhead to protect them. They had only their
blanket, a single waterproof blanket big enough to cover the whole
tribe. They huddled on the mossy floor of the Dwelling-Place with
the blanket over their heads.
Only one of the
People was different. Ferren lay with the other adolescents, in
the outer ring of bodies under the blanket. But he was not curled
up into a ball. He had lifted the edge of the blanket and was peering
out into the night.
He could see
movement all over the sky. Vague multitudes of shapes like wings
swam slowly behind the clouds. One side of the sky was fiery bright,
where red fiery tongues stabbed upwards from below. The tips of
the tongues were clearly visible above the wall of the Dwelling-Place.
There were pale
oval globes too, swarms and swarms of them. At first they were high
in the sky, but as Ferren watched, they descended lower and lower.
They moved with a looping spiralling motion, in a kind of aerial
dance. They seemed to be moving towards the red tongues of fire.
He knew what
to expect. It wasn't the first time he had watched Heaven attacking
the Earth. Suddenly the globes began to shoot forth flashes of blinding
light. On -- off! On -- off! On -- off! On -- off!
Ferren was momentarily
dazzled. By the time he had blinked away the dazzle, the globes
were ascending once more. They were like wafting sparks borne up
on a draught of air.
But one globe
wasn't ascending. Instead it hurtled across the sky, very low down.
It seemed to be coming straight towards the Dwelling-Place.
He wriggled forward for a better look. He wriggled forward until
his whole head and shoulders were sticking out beyond the blanket.
Still the globe
came hurtling onwards. It was completely out of control. It bobbled
and wobbled, struggling to rise but always losing height. The pale
oval shape was rimmed with an ominous red glow.
to draw back in under the blanket again. The thing was getting too
close for comfort. Surely it couldn't be going to crash on top of
Larger and larger
it loomed. Now he could see some sort of Celestial inside, a winged
figure in yellow robes, twisting and turning. He could hear a sound
like a thin silvery wail:
He pulled the
blanket sharply over his head and buried his nose in the ground.
The globe whistled
over the top of the Dwelling-Place and hit the ground somewhere
There was a dull
hollow-sounding explosion. Then nothing. Silence. Ferren breathed
a sigh of relief. He lifted the edge of the blanket and peered out
There was no
smoke or light rising up above the Dwelling-Place wall. He traced
the course of the globe's final plunge, trying to work out where
it must have come down. Somewhere in the direction of Beaumont Street,
he calculated. Probably out on the open Plain, in the grass beyond
He grinned to
himself. What an amazing event! A crashed globe from Heaven's army!
He wished there was someone he could tell. But the People wouldn't
want to hear. And they certainly wouldn't want to investigate.
But he could
investigate on his own ... if he dared. He could slip away early
tomorrow morning, he could go out and search for whatever was left
of the globe and its occupant. The thought of something so forbidden
and dangerous made his heart beat faster.
Up above, the
war in the sky continued unabated. The ascending globes had formed
up in a line and were streaming off on another trajectory. The strange
booming voices grew louder, the red tongues of fire shifted direction.
But Ferren had
something else to think about. He was planning what he might do
tomorrow morning ... if he dared.