Artificial Angel

   It sits in the tree waiting for the world to end. Wings spread eagle and arms pressed to its chest, it sleeps as though it were a sleeping bat nestled inside the darkest of caves, eyes closed and face calm but mute. It’s a thing that few people ever get to experience—the reality of a moment, the assurance of peace, but regardless, this angel is timeless.
   Shifting, the creature blinks, opening its eyes to a world dark and without any discernable light source. It’s first thought is, Where am I?

   The thought, though unsettling, is not without purpose. It’s been long since it’s woken from slumber, much too long. The last thing it can recall is bombs exploding to the distance and harsh cries sounding from the ruins of a destroyed city, but the creature isn’t sure this matters. That time is long gone, it knows, and it is not necessary to remember things that have happened in the past.
   For a brief moment, it waits, listening to the sounds of the woods around. Then it drops down, landing on brown earth littered with pine needles.
   Stepping forward, but not sure whether or not to proceed, the angel lifts its head and begins to examine its surroundings. Already it is able to make out details from the area—the mute expressions in the bark, the glimmer of bugs in the air. The area has changed. This much is already obvious.
   Is this necessary?
   Necessary, to wake from slumber without any cause or reason—it hasn’t been called, nor has it been beckoned from lands devoid of consciousness by anything higher than a voice. It seems impractical, especially at a time like this, when nothing seems wrong.
   A flicker of movement from the sky catches its attention.
   The angel lifts its head.
   Only one thought goes through its mind.
   Snow.
   No—not snow, but something like it. It’s falling from the sky like snow would, albeit slower and with a greater sense of dread, but it isn’t snow. It’s too thick, too corroded with the sense of unnatural ease to be snow. A sad thought occurs to the angel before it begins to cross the clearing, toward where it begins to remember a road once stood. This may not be the world it remembered.
   Like a child not sure of its first step into the world, the angel hesitates, wings shifting and beak drawing air through a pair of twin nostrils. Only when it steps onto the road does it see the result of time.
   So, it thinks. This is it.
   Skeletons linger all around—not of the dead, but of the impractical and weary. Husks of what used to be lumbering towers shiver in the passing breeze, while lights that once used to shine remain dead, looking out at the world like eyes hollow and sunk into the skulls of the old. What should be snow falls greater here, as trees are no longer able to catch its flakes, but that doesn’t concern the angel—it’s the sky. No longer blue, but a shimmering shade of white, it swims across the horizon as though moving through a current, fish streaming up rivers that no longer exist.
   The angel’s wings draw its attention away from the scenery.  Their metal gleam saddens it. Never was it a real angel, a being people looked up to. It has always been false, a conduit made only to serve those who created it.
   As it looks upon the world, both saddened and unsure of its prospect, the angel takes a moment for the realization to settle in.  When it finally does, it mimics what would once have been considered a sigh, then spreads its wings.
   It kicks off with one foot, then begins to fly toward the horizon.
   Other shapes lurk in the distance.

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