[Author’s Note: Gemma’s guardian angel is introduced in this chapter. Originally, he was going to be an off-to-the-side character, but after learning of Gemma’s deep bond with him, I asked God to help me incorporate her guardian angel into the story. My research confirms that one evening, after taking a particularly terrible beating from the devil, Gemma was unable to move. Her guardian angel picked her up and put her to bed, then stood watch for the rest of the night. There are three artistic liberties taken. The first is the conversation that takes place between the guardian angel and the devil. This sequence has been created to develop the guardian’s angel character. The second is the insertion of Gemma’s quote “Oh God, I am weak….give me…a little strength. No matter what will happen to me, all is for You.” This is a documented quote from her. It was said while she was in a state of ecstasy. However, I made the decision to insert it here to show Gemma’s resolve. Finally, the third liberty is what Gemma says to her guardian angel about almost giving in to the devil’s temptation when she was ill. This was created to reestablish Gemma’s motivation for remaining strong against the devil’s abuse. In addition, I realized that I needed to show their rapport].
Her face swells from where his fist struck. The bruises pulsate with a throbbing pain that spreads throughout her body. Pressing her worn hands against the cold floor, her fingers quiver as she struggles to support her own weight. She feels blood trickle from her nostrils, creating miniscule crimson puddles on the floor.
“That’s enough for one night, wouldn’t you say?”
Gemma can feel his fiery eyes cast down at her. She glances up and sees his immense shadow looming over her. “My–my Jesus…my Jesus, please…” she struggles between breaths.
Her body becomes rigid when he kneels down beside her. She is too weak to stop him from cupping her chin into his talons. “Your God does not care about what happens to you.” Satan releases her chin and stands up. He turns to leave, but then stops and turns his head. “My offer still stands, Gemma.”
She keeps her eyes on the floor. “Just kneel before me. Pledge your allegiance to me and I will protect you. You won’t have to suffer for some dead carpenter if you just–“
“No.” Gemma raises her head and darts her eyes to the crucifix on the wall. “Oh God, I am weak….give me…a little strength. No matter what will happen to me, all is for You.”
A sudden force pins her to the floor. Staring up at the ceiling, she clenches her fists, bracing herself for more pain.
“Hmph, suit yourself, little one.”
She shuts her eyes the minute his body whirls around, his fist aimed high. The thud rings against her ear. She opens her eyes and sees that his fist has just barely missed her face. As he disappears into a swirl of smoke, the echo of his vicious cackle remains.
Weakness has rendered her immobile. She turns her head and sees a sizzling hole where the devil’s fist landed. Her beating heart drums in her ears. She glances up at her extinguished candle as it sits barren and alone on her small table.
A flame flickers on the wick as warmth takes hold of the room. A glowing set of feet stand on top of the sizzling hole. Gemma sighs in relief to see her guardian angel. She feels one of his feathers gently brush her bruised cheek. “Angel, I can’t move.”
Her guardian angel kneels to the floor. He wipes the blood from her nostrils with his sleeve. The blood dissipates into the fabric until it completely disappears. Reaching underneath her, he lifts her in his arms, cradling her. “Sleep, my child. You have nothing to fear.” His ethereal light dulls every ounce of pain that has ravaged her body. Gemma takes deep breaths as she is lowered onto her bed. A strange chuckle escapes her lips.
“What makes you laugh, Gemma?”
Lying flat on her back, her eyes bore into the ceiling. “To think that I almost surrendered to that monster…” She closes her eyes, sinking into the painful memory.
“I can take away your suffering, Gemma. Whatever you desire, I will grant you. If you submit to me, obey me, do as I say, I will see to it that your body never betrays you again.” He opened his palm and reached out to her. “Just take my hand and I will free you from your misery.”
Gemma kept her eyes on the ceiling. Desperation began to drown her. As if her body was moving without her consent, her hand lifted. She pulled back, clenching her fist. She relaxed her hand, leaving it mid-air.
When she opens her eyes, she sees her guardian angel holding up his hand, “Leave in the past what belongs to the past. He will attempt to use your weakest moment against you, my dear. Accept that you have been forgiven by our Lord and go forward.”
She turns her head to the candle’s dancing flame. “If this is how he treats those who oppose him, imagine how he treats the ones who do exactly as he says.” A chill runs through her body at the thought of being a follower of darkness. The idea of the almost haunts her; almost taking his hand, almost pledging her allegiance to Hell, almost trading her eternal soul for temporary comfort.
Her guardian angel pulls the sheets up to her chin. His hand touches her head. “Remember who are you and Who you belong to.” He points at the crucifix, “Before anything else, He is a savior. He will not let you fall.”
Gemma looks at the crucifix, mentally absorbing every detail of Jesus’ body. She touches her cheek, realizing that the swelling is gone. Looking at her arms, she can see that the bruises are no more. As tears of joy pool in her eyes, her face brightens with a tender, assured smile. She places her hands over her heart, “Oh Jesus, I see You as greater than all the treasures on earth. Yes, my sweetest God, my most lovable Jesus: to my eyes You are greater than the greatest treasures on earth.” She notices that her stoic angel’s mouth has lifted into a smile, as well. As she drifts off to sleep, she hears his wings stretch out, shielding her from the terrors of the night.
Her guardian angel holds his sheath, ready to strike any demonic forces that draw near.
“And how is our little Gemma?”
The guardian angel faces the prince of darkness with a stoic expression.
“Oh, relax. I’m not going to throw her across the room.”
The guardian angel crosses his arms, “You beat this woman for over an hour.”
Satan rolls his eyes, “You angels of God are no fun. At the very least, allow me to check up on the poor girl,” he reaches out his claws for Gemma’s forehead.
The guardian angel grabs Satan’s wrist. Within seconds, his light burns the devil’s skin.
“AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!” Satan recoils to the floor, clutching his bubbling wrist.
The guardian angel pulls out his sword and points it at the enemy. A brilliant light shimmers off the blade, blinding the devil.
As Satan recovers, the guardian angel stands above him. He looks back at Gemma, who is sound asleep. He hears Satan beginning to stand and faces him.
“Hmph, you’re just as much of a menace as Michael!” Satan hisses as he props himself up.
“Why do you want this daughter of God? Many people have fallen into your hands and the whole earth is yours.” The guardian angel places his sword back in his sheath. “Are the ones who already reside in Gehenna not enough for you?”
Satan walks over to the candle. He runs his talons over the small flame, releasing a dark plume of smoke into the air. The guardian angel clears the smoke with the light of his sword.
“Hell is populated by my easiest targets. Many of them made the quiet and comfortable journey into my hands.” He raises his talons and points at Gemma, “Imagine the glory of snatching away one of God’s finest…” A sinister smile plasters his face. “I would love nothing more than to look a former servant of God in the eye and say, ‘Welcome to Hell.'” Satan narrows his eyes, his unflinching focus set on the holy woman. “Hmph, I almost pity the poor child and how she allows herself to suffer for a being she cannot see.” The guardian angel tenses when he sees a spark of lust in the devil’s eyes. “She is quite lovely…”
The guardian angel stands in front of Gemma, blocking her from the devil’s line of vision. “Leave. Now.” The guardian angel once again withdraws his sword and presses the tip of the blade right at Satan’s throat.
Satan smirks as he steps back. He glances at the crucifix, but can only look at it at a second before it burns his eyes. “Whether it is a docile girl who prays or an abrasive drunkard who lies and cheats, I want everyone to be as far away from the Almighty as possible…” The devil turns his back to the guardian angel, then stops and tilts his head slightly.
“I won’t stop until everyone burns.”