Below is the first chapter of a book I'm writing. Let me know your thoughts.
Angels are real, but forget about the images of winged, white robed beings gliding through the air with halos hanging above their heads. Everyone believes an angel to be these heavenly creatures that watch over and save us when our lives are at stake. In truth, angels are just like humans: flawed, greedy, and unpredictable. But on rare occasions an angel is chosen to protect a single soul that could change the path of all mankind while others are sent to kill it.
On a summers day in 1871, sunlight cascaded through dirty paned windows of a bank within a small town, just below a towering mountain range in Montana. A bank manager nervously sat within the sunrays at an old, dusty desk. Just across from the manager, a man by the name of Abel Johansen carved on a stick with a pocketknife—his wide brimmed hat covered his eyes. Written in scars on Abel’s neck were people’s names that looked to have been burnt into his flesh. The names ran down his neck and disappeared beneath his shirt collar. Abel was distinguished and well spoken, but his presence gave a chill to anyone within sight of him. As handsome and dark as he was, no one dared cross the man who seemed to revel in striking fear into everyone around him.
“Been close to one hundred years since I’ve passed through these parts,” Abel said as he raised his head and stared out the window. His graveled voice caused the manager to shake, even with Abel’s calm tone. Sweat beaded on the bank managers’ forehead. “How long have you lived here?”
The sweat fell onto the bank manager’s spectacles; he blinked nervously while looking on in slight confusion by what Abel said. The bank manager found it strange that this man believed he was around a century ago. “About um, t-t-ten years or so,” the manager answered with a shaky voice. Praying is heard subtly within the bank, a child’s soft voice was just a whisper as Abel turned his attention towards a crowd of people lying on the wood floor. He folded up his pocketknife and placed it into his black coat as Abel stood up and snaked his way over to the petrified group. A young boy prayed on his knees, his forehead rested on the light oak boards. Abel stared with a half smirk; the sounds of prayer amused him. He knew the helpless plea to God was worthless in his presence.
“Prayers to our heavenly father?” Abel asked as he took a step towards him. “How often have your prayers been answered?” The boy looked up at Abel, his eyes glossed over with tears and trembling like a leaf in the wind with fear. Abel stepped through the crowd of people, not taking his eyes off the boy. “Have your prayers ever been answered boy?” Abel asked again, his voice a bit raised the second time. The boy looked up at Abel, his head shook no. “Then why bother if he does not answer?”
“He has faith!” The woman next to the boy barked back in sternness, the mother held the boy closer like a lion protecting her cub. Abel smirked at the answer she gave as she held the boy close while staring up with contempt.
Abel looked up toward a large safe at the other end of the bank as Duke, a tired middle-aged man who looked to have been sleeping in mud all his life, stacked bags of cash in a pile. “What do you think Duke? Will God answer the prayers of these patrons?” Abel shouted.
Jake, a young cowboy with boyish good looks, sealed up another bag of money and handed it over to Duke. Jake walked back into the vault while Duke pondered on Abel’s question. “God ain’t done a damn thing for me,” he replied with a deep southern drawl. Duke walked towards the front door and left the bank full of nervous people with a couple bags in hand.
“You find it yet?” Abel asked Jake. The young cowboy within the vault popped his head out.
“Ain’t found it. We’ve gone through everything and there’s no sign,” Jake answered. Abel’s disapproval gave Jake a chill by the deep stare he was getting. Abel walked over to the vault and closed his eyes while standing within the small room. His hands moved like metal detectors, slowly hovering as a smile grew before he made a fist.
“It’s here. I feel it,” Abel said. He opened his eyes; everyone within the bank tried to sneak a peek as Abel lifted his arm suddenly and drove his fist down through the flooring. A few women and one man let out a gasp by the sight of him pushing his hand through steel. Abel’s hand felt around beneath the vault and stopped suddenly. An even bigger grin formed as Abel lifted his hand to reveal a silver dagger with an intricate designed handle in his grasp. The pleasure Abel felt with the blade in hand gave him instant gratification. The blade was ancient; some said it was created by God himself while others believed it to be the creation of Lucifer to be a tool for killing any angel who opposed him. All that was known of the knife was that anyone killed by it would cease to exist, never to pass on to heaven or hell. You’re soul lost as if you never existed.
“The son of a bitch buried it here,” Abel said to himself.
Suddenly a small stream of smoke rose from beneath Abel’s long coat on his arm. He rolled up his sleeve where a branded skull rested. Black began to cover his branding as if burning from an invisible fire. The pain was noticeable as the tattoo slowly formed into charred flesh. The smoking stopped as blackened dead skin sat on top of his forearm where the skull once was. Abel wiped the dead skin away to see a new branding of a compass, the arrow within it moving as if it were real. Abel rolled his sleeve back down. “God dammit,” Abel said under his breath. Abel took one last look at the silver blade before placing it in his belt beneath the dark coat.
Abel took out his silver revolver and gripped the ivory handle tight while pulling back on the hammer. “Hey! Manager!” Abel shouted out. The bank manager threw a frightening glance at Abel, shaking worse than before. “Pray for me!” Abel demanded calmly. The bank managers breathing grew more erratic. Abel lifted his gun and aimed it at his forehead. “Pray you don’t want to die. Pray for your life.”
The bank manager had tears flowing down his cheeks, thoughts of that moment being his last on earth rattled through his mind. He began to pray as Abel looked over at the young boy who watched. A few words into the bank manager’s prayer were silenced by a loud blast. A bullet hole was dead center in the manager’s forehead, blood streaked down his face as his body slumped back. A stream of smoke flowed from Abel’s barrel. Everyone at Abel’s feet cried as he sauntered back toward the young boy.
“See boy. No prayer saved him,” Abel said while placing his gun away. He knelt down where the boy laid. Abel placed his hand under the boys chin and tilted it up to see eye to eye. “God doesn’t care about you. You are his entertainment, his escape. He created you because he had nothing better to do.”
The boy wept more so than before. His body shook by the presence of a fresh dead body sitting a few feet away. The fear coursed through his veins, wishing for the evil within the bank to vanish, but God didn’t grant him his wish. The fear of death was all around him. It was the first time he felt unsafe, even with his mother by his side. Urine began to flow from the boys’ pissed stained overalls. Abel noticed and smiled.
“Don’t worry boy. You’ll live to die some other time,” Abel stated while standing up. Jake walked out with three of the last sacks of money. Next to the desk where the bank managers’ body sat was a faded brown, leather suitcase. Abel opens the case to reveal dynamite stacked to the brim. “Hey boy!” Abel shouted. The boy looked up as Abel glared over at him. “Do me a favor and start counting to thirty when I exit that door. When you get to thirty you’re free. You got it?” Abel asked. The young boy nodded his head and watched with a glimmer of hope. A weight seemed to lift from the boy as he patiently laid and waited for Abel to leave. Abel lit a cigar with a quick flick of his wrist as a match sizzled with flame. Abel took a few puffs before smoke billowed from his mouth; Abel took the match and lit a fuse hidden from sight within the bag. “See ya kid,” Abel said as he tipped his hat and walked out the door. The boy watched, wanting so desperately to start counting as soon as Abel crossed the threshold.
“One…Two…Three,” the boy began to count as soon as Abel vanished from his view. The sparking of the fuse whipped around like an injured snake within the bag. Just outside Abel jumped onto his horse; the other two men waited on horseback with several bags hanging off their saddles. Several people watched from the other side of the street, keeping a distance and out of sight by hiding in doorways and around building corners.
“Let’s get,” Abel said.
“Where to?” Jake asked. Abel turned as he lifted his sleeve to show the branding of the compass, the arrow pointed toward the mountain overlooking the town and nodded at it.
“Got us another one who needs killing, another name to the list,” Abel stated. With a whip of the reins all three men rode quickly down the center of the dirt road leading out of town. Abel road in the center of the pack, always staring forward as his two henchmen rode at his side and kept a watchful eye for any harm to come their way. Their hands rested firmly on the pistols on their belts.
“Twenty-two…Twenty-three…” the boy still counted. A sizzling was heard by the mother, she looked up and seen smoke creeping out from the top of the bag in front of the dead manager. The mother realized suddenly what was within the suitcase. In her despair she stood up, grabbed her son, and ran for her life towards the front door. Suddenly a flash of light and a rush of air took her by surprise as flames surrounded her and her boy just feet away from the door.
Just behind Abel and his two men, a loud explosion devastated the bank, blowing splintered wood and glass in all directions. Windows were blown out from the percussion of the blast in surrounding buildings. The ground shook for a second, creating panic and screams of terror. A smoldering pile of rumble and the mothers burnt body holding her son lying dead in the street was all that was left of the bank as Abel chomped on his cigar, still looking forward and whistling as if nothing happened behind him. Abel’s two henchmen look back in amusement
As the three men rode towards the giant mountain range ahead of them, the townspeople exited the buildings. They ran up to the flames with buckets of water as black smoke hung over the once quiet community.