I decided it would be a good exercise to pick my favorite piece every week and comb through it to try and make some revisions and tighten up the piece as best I can. This week I decided to go with my story from day one. There aren’t any enormous earth-shattering changes, but I do think the story is a bit more clear and reads a bit better. Most of the changes are in the first 200 words, setting up the scene a bit better. Anyway, here’s the revision:
Prompt: Time travel, a bookmark, the angel Gabriel.
“Well, shit.” Evan peeked his head out of his car window to take in the surroundings. “I guess this is why you shouldn’t piss off angels.”
He let out a sigh of frustration. He’d been driving home when all of a sudden everything turned white, and he’d found himself face to face with Gabriel. The archangel had made Evan an offer he couldn’t refuse, Evan had refused it, and Gabriel had gotten angry. Before he knew it, Evan was spinning his tires in some of the thickest mud he’d ever seen, stranded god knows where. He hoped he was still in Texas—the stars looked pretty much the same, and the terrain looked similar—but he couldn’t be sure. Flipping on the radio, Evan tweaked the dials until he could get a signal.
“16th of November, 1934. Extracts from a radio broadcast—“ Evan flipped the radio off.
“God damn it.” Gabriel hadn’t sent him through space, he’d sent him through time. Evan sucked air through his teeth in frustration again before brushing tousled blonde hair from his eyes and reaching into the glove compartment for his flashlight. “Might as well get moving.”
Leaning against the old Chevy’s door and forcing it open, Evan slid to the muddy ground, sinking to his ankles. Holding the flashlight between his teeth, he gripped the sides of the pickup and made his way to the truck’s bed. Hopping into the back, Evan pulled aside the small tarp he’d laid over an old wooden trunk before working the brass combination lock that held it closed.
“You’ve been chosen, Evan,” he grumbled while yanking the lock open, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the presence of God. I was sent to speak to you, and bring these glad tidings to you.” Evan kept complaining as he strapped the handgun to his hip and threw the Panic Pack over his shoulder.
“Mighty ‘glad tidings’ you brought with you, Gabriel. Mighty glad.” Satisfied he had everything, Evan slammed the chest closed and jammed the lock back into place. Hopping over the side of the pickup, back into ankle deep mud, Evan took another look at the stars to get his bearings and took off due north. The situation was far from ideal, but he’d been in worse.
At least he had his pack. There wasn’t much in it in the way of regular supplies. Just two days rations and a liter of fresh water. But that’s not what he’d put the bag together for.
Whistling while he walked, Evan absently ran his fingers along the grip of his pistol. He didn’t think he’d need it, but the weight on his hip was comfortable and it was always better to be prepared.
Reckoning he’d found a decent enough spot, Evan tossed the pack down before stooping to pull a few weeds. The ground didn’t need to be bare, but it did need to be relatively kept. Finding a stick sturdy enough for the job, Evan drew a quick circle twice as wide as he was tall, then just as easily inscribed a five-pointed star.
“That’s a start.” Evan nodded to himself before reaching into the bag and pulling out everything else he’d need. It wasn’t much. At least not for this particular working.
Starting with the tip pointing due north, Evan went around the circle counter clockwise, placing a candle at every vertex. Following the same route with an old Zippo, he lit each candle in turn. Digging into the backpack one more time, he pulled out an old book and flipped through it until he found what he was looking for. Pulling the piece of bookmark from its home between pages, he placed it gingerly in the center of the circle. It was his last one, and he hated to lose it, but he didn’t have much of a choice. Eighty-two years was a long time to reach through and he needed a solid connection.
Standing, Evan rolled up his sleeves, before closing his eyes and placing his hand palms down over the circle. He cleared his throat before letting out the air in his lungs as a low hiss. His bare arms flashed red for a moment. Neat lines, ever-changing like a geometric kaleidoscope, ran from his fingertips, up past his wrists, and disappeared under his flannel. Sucking in another breath of air through clenched teeth, he sighed it out easily, causing the lines on his arms to pulsate for a moment before glowing twice as bright. Snapping with both hands, Evan opened his eyes and looked down into the circle to examine his handiwork.
The lights were off at both his house and the neighbors. A small blessing. But the portal’s position was far from ideal. “Hopefully, no one’s a light sleeper,” Evan mused, before making his way back behind his truck, and resting both palms against the back bumper. Closing his eyes and sucking in air as he had before, red lines cascaded up from his fingertips as he slowly pushed the Chevy out of its muddy prison.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, Evan winced at the pain in his arms and legs. Even with the marks, some workings still took a toll. Running his fingers along the grip of his gun one more time, Evan climbed into the truck before thundering it back to life.
Not allowing himself any second thoughts, Evan slammed his foot on the gas, shooting the old truck forward as fast as it could manage. Without notice, the sound of the tires tearing through the open field quickly changed into the sound of whistling wind. Evan counted down from three quickly in his head. The second he reached zero, he heard and felt his pickup slam through the roof of his garage and into the pavement that housed the another piece of his bookmark—the anchor point of the portal.
Collecting himself, Evan peeked up at the hole in his roof. “I hate angels.”