Head in the clouds. Feet on the ground. Heart in the story. Christa Kinde is a cheerful homebody whose imagination takes her new places with every passing day. Making her home between misty mornings and brimming bookshelves in Southern California, she’s been writing for more than a decade, but the Threshold Series is her first foray into fiction. Learn about Christa’s books, Bible studies, short stories, weekdaily serials, and more at ChristaKinde.com.
Part Four: Big Brother
You can find Part 1 HERE
You can find Part 2 HERE
You can find Part 3 HERE
Ransom stood next to his propped bicycle at the end of the driveway. “Hey.”
“Yo.” Marcus kept his voice low. No one was up yet in the Turnquist household, so it felt like he was sneaking out. Of course, he regularly stole away to train with Jedrick, but this was different. And completely unprecedented.
“You always up this early?” Ransom said.
“Awesome.” He glanced toward the garage. “Do you have a bike?”
“That’s okay.” Ransom offered his bike. “You ride. I’ll run.”
Sinking his hands deeper into the pockets of his leather jacket, Marcus said, “No thanks. I can keep up.”
“You sure? I was in track at my old school. Running’s kinda my thing.”
Marcus hesitated. Grafts like him were practically hardwired to accept hospitality whenever it was offered. He doubted the paperboy believed in angels, let alone understood the blessings tied to entertaining one. “Wanna share? I’ll ride partway. We can switch later.”
“I’m good with that.” Ransom hopped on the balls of his feet a few times then jogged on down the sidewalk. Over his shoulder, he called, “Won’t take long to finish my route. Unless Kitten the Doberman gets snippy.”
Up one block and over to the next, Marcus pedaled slowly alongside Ransom, who talked nonstop while he pitched papers. By the time a low growl interrupted their steady pace, Marcus wore bemused smile. This guy has a lot to say.
“See what I mean,” Ransom said, tapping a rolled paper lightly against his palm. “She and I have irreconcilable differences.”
Marcus ditched the bike and ambled up the sidewalk. Kitten immediately sat on her haunches, ears pricked. Offering his hand to the guard dog, Marcus said “Yo.”
The Doberman whined and lay at his feet, stub tail wiggling furiously.
“Whoa,” Ransom whispered.
Paper safely delivered, they switched places. Marcus had no trouble keeping up. Running felt good, but it still wasn’t entirely satisfying. I can do more than this, can’t I?
The sun was still low on the horizon when Ransom finished his deliveries. “Wanna come over to my place?”
“Can’t. My foster mom has these rules.” Marcus shrugged. “She’ll want to meet you first. No offense.”
“It’s fine. I usually get along fine with other people’s moms.”
“Not your own?”
“Nope.” Ransom smiled lopsidedly. “Fresh out of moms at my place. It’s just me and my dad.”
“Don’t know. Don’t care.” Ransom changed the subject by veering into the neighborhood park. “How about this, then?”
“Should be okay. I bring my kid brother and sister here a lot.” As he followed Ransom toward the playground, he noticed that Flopsy’s lavender chalk drawings from the previous day were still intact, as was the yellow hopscotch grid he’d made for Landon.
Ransom dropped his bike beside the jungle gym and climbed to the top, sitting with legs swinging. An angel with bronze wings dropped from the sky to stand behind him, and Marcus blinked. He was used to tuning out the comings and goings of Guardians, but this one clearly wanted his attention. The big fella was staring at him with a mixture of bafflement and bashfulness.
“So … foster mom,” Ransom said. “What’s it like having a loaner family?”
“Different.” Marcus held the Guardian’s gaze while letting his jacket slip from his shoulders. He tossed it onto the bike before scaling the metal bars.
“Different how? Did you used to have another family?”
“I’ve lived in lots of places. Always with big brothers. This time I’m the big brother. And it’s my first time with sisters. Come back with me and see for yourself. But I gotta warn you, my new little sister is really into tea parties.”
“And you’re her favorite victim?”
“Yep.” Marcus fit his knees over one of the metal bars and hung upside down. “I don’t mind, but it’s not for everyone.”
Ransom grinned. “I’ll survive.” Then he spun off into a lengthy description of a television show he’d seen about a cake shop that specialized in snooty tea-party fare.
While he waxed eloquent about royal icing, Marcus’s attention drifted back to the Guardian, who’d jumped to the ground and was scrutinizing him from outside the bars. Marcus’s T-shirt had slipped down, baring his stomach. But more important, it revealed his back … and the zigzag pattern of furled wings that lay against his brown skin. Do you get it?
“You’re a cherub.” The Guardian’s light voice held a note of disbelief.
Slowly, understanding dawned on pallid features. “You’re a Graft.”
“Are you Sent to my charge?”
He shook his head.
“Yet you’re here.” The angel glanced thoughtfully between the boys. “Good.”
Maybe. Marcus didn’t like to get a Guardian’s hopes up. But if God was at work, good stuff had a way of happening.
Ransom left off talking about a flubbed batch of scones. “Geez, I’m starving. Hey, if we head over to your place now, would your mom feed me?”
“Let’s find out.” Marcus curled and pulled himself up then twirled around the bar before jumping off. Landing in the grass beside the jungle gym, he shrugged back into his jacket. Maybe he wasn’t Sent, but maybe he didn’t need to be. Not when Ransom was perfectly comfortable inviting himself over.
That night, Marcus slipped through the apple blossom door at the end of the hall. He was a little early. More like a lot early. But his upcoming trip beyond the stars made him jittery. He’d finally get to see one of the universe’s farflung forges where angels were both armed and armored. And I’m joining their ranks. Kinda. At least he’d look the part.
Not far into the summery glade, Marcus spotted two of his teammates. Neither Worshiper noticed his arrival, but Marcus eased closer. Baird and Levi weren’t big and burly like the warrior types in their Flight, so he didn’t look quite so undergrown next to them.
When their duet ended, Levi was the first to notice him. “Hoobae!”
Baird swiveled. “Marcus! What’s up?”
“I’m going to be fitted for armor today.”
Bounding over, the redhead flopped onto the grass. “Looking forward to it?”
Levi joined his mentor and pulled Marcus down beside them. “What about school? Do you know who your teacher is yet?”
This. Both Baird and Levi were also Grafts, so Marcus could talk to them about anything without blowing his cover—training with Jedrick, enduring Flopsy’s tea party for Ransom, and meeting the bronze-winged Guardian.
“Did you get his name?”
“The Guardian? Nope. But I’ll probably be seeing him again.”
“Why so?” Levi said.
“I get the idea I’ll be seeing Ransom again.” Marcus hesitated. “He’s kinda . . .”
“Stalkerish?” Levi said.
“Socially awkward,” Baird said. “Common ground for the win!”
“Hooked. On Flopsy’s tea.”
Marcus snorted. “I was going to say friendly. He actually reminds me of you guys.”
Baird brightened. “Redhead with an impressive wingspan?”
Levi pulled at his shoulder-length locks. “Blue hair?”
Marcus rolled his eyes. “Be realistic. The guy’s only human.”
“Musically minded?” Levi said. “A genius on the keyboard?”
“Guitarist? Vocalist? Composer?” Baird flung his arms wide. “Epic in all proportions.”
“Maybe vertically. He’s taller than you.”
Baird laughed. “Not much of a feat. But seriously, making a friend is huge.”
With a sidelong look, Marcus said, “You’re pretty good at this.”
“Oh?” Baird said. “Which part—being short or being friendly?”
“Being both. I mean, angel and human. It’s hard to believe you’re a First One. You’re like a normal guy.”
Baird’s eyebrows arched. “Any reason I can’t be both?”
Marcus searched the other angel’s face. “Nope. It’s just not typical.”
“You know better than anyone that typical isn’t always possible.”
“Because I’m a cherub who can’t fight?” Marcus muttered.
“Can’t you?” Levi said.
He flashed a smile at his mentor, and the two pounced. Before Marcus could react, Levi had him in a headlock, and Baird was tickling his bare feet.
“This is why cherubim wear boots, you know,” the redhead said. “Totally ticklish!”
“We should start calling you Tenderfoot!” Levi said.
“Would you like some help?”
Going still, Marcus’s smile faded. I must look pathetic, unable to fend off two zamarim.
Jedrick calmly made a grab then launched into the sky, carrying Levi by an ankle and Baird by his belt loops. After a lazy circle, their captain brought them safely down, and the Worshipers tumbled to the grass. Levi curled into a tight ball, laughing so hard he had hiccups.
Meanwhile, Baird beckoned to Marcus. As soon as he was within reach, the redhead pulled him close and messed up his hair. “God’s up to something. His plans for you must be amazing.”
Marcus peeked up at Jedrick. “You think?”
“I know.” Thumping his heart, Baird said, “It’s always the same. Over and over. Again and again. Since before Time began.”
“Good stuff happens,” he mumbled.
“Always. So trust that you’re where you belong. Even if it’s with a couple goof-offs like Levi and me.”
“Ready?” Jedrick said.
Baird punched his arm. “Say hey to the opanim for me. Totally love those guys!”
Marcus scrambled to his feet and stood tall. “Ready!”
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Five: “Class Clown”