Angelos

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Angelos

Robina Williams

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

  As he passed through the porch for the last time, Father Fidelis sensed that he was under scrutiny. He turned sharply and saw the friary cat, a ginger tom, sitting on a bench, watching him. He eyed the cat uncertainly. The creature stared solemnly at him for a few moments, then his green eyes glittered and brightened, and Fidelis caught a gleam of gold. He surprised himself by stooping to stroke the cat.

"Hi, Leo! Have you come to say goodbye to me?"

Father Peter, who was standing by the doorway, clutching Fidelis's suitcase, grimaced and held his breath as he waited for the cat to claw Fidelis, for the two had never gotten along. Fidelis didn't like cats and didn't bother to hide the fact. Peter had seen him aim a kick at Leo one day -- and had seen the deep and bloody scratch his guardian had received in return. Cursing cats in general and Leo in particular, Fidelis had limped off to bandage his ankle.

Now, to Peter's amazement, Leo gave a friendly-sounding meow and pushed his head encouragingly into the friar's palm.

Fidelis was plainly taken aback by this sudden display of affection. Cautiously, he patted the silken head. The cat purred invitingly. Fidelis patted him again, then caressed his soft fur. Leo purred happily.

Fidelis smiled. It was the first time Peter had seen him smile in weeks.

"Well, how about that!" Fidelis said with some bemusement. "We're buddies now." He laughed, and added, "Unless, of course, he knows I'm leaving and he'll be glad to see the back of me." He gave Leo's head a final pat.

The cat nuzzled him -- a little ostentatiously, it seemed to Peter.

"Well, 'bye, Leo, it's time I was going. 'Bye, old fellow." Fidelis moved toward the open door, glanced back, then headed toward the waiting car, where Father Valentine sat ready to drive him to the railway station.

Before following his guardian outside, Peter stared suspiciously at the cat.

Green eyes gazed innocently back at him, then Leo bent to lick a paw. When he raised his head, his eyes had changed color.

Peter turned away as a rich, fiery gold burned into him. He had seen those golden eyes before. They had frightened him then, and they frightened him now. They belonged to a creature from another realm, a creature that possessed powers beyond his imagining. This cat could skip from the land of the living to the land of the dead and back again. This cat could dance through dimensions with ease, which was considerably more than Peter's late brother-in-faith, Jerome, could do.

The late Brother Jerome, Peter had come to realize, wasn't exactly resting in peace. Death had given him itchy feet. Jerome, who had been a stay-at-home type during his lifetime, was now out and about all over the place. The only problem was that he didn't seem to have quite mastered the art of after-death travel. It appeared he still had a certain amount to learn about the technique.

It's only natural, he's not gotten the hang of it yet -- he's not been dead for long. Peter paused and corrected himself. No… it isn't natural.

When a chap was meant to be lying quietly in his casket, it was no joke having him materialize out of the ether and give you the fright of your life. It was a grave matter when the dead wouldn't stay dead, or at least stay put.

As for the cat, well, the cat… who knew whether he was dead or alive? Life and death seemed to be all one to him, for he lived with the living and with the dead… at the same time.

Peter forced himself to look at the cat again and found himself looking into those green eyes once more. The golden fire that had blazed a moment earlier had been extinguished. There was nothing unusual about the eyes that regarded him now. They were just… cat's eyes. There was nothing special about them, nothing out of the ordinary.

Peter gulped, turned and went quickly out of the porch toward the waiting car. He found the cat in his incarnation as household pet profoundly disturbing, for he knew that the familiar exterior masked something strange, something alien. He was trembling as he carried Fidelis's suitcase to the car, and almost stumbled.

Valentine quickly left the driver's seat and hurried over to take the suitcase from him. He was surprised to find that it wasn't particularly heavy. He eyed Peter curiously. "Are you feeling okay?"

Peter turned an abstracted gaze on him. "What?"

"Is everything okay? You seem a bit… unsteady."

"I'm fine."

You don't look fine, Valentine thought as he stowed the suitcase in the trunk. You look like someone who's seen a ghost. Ah…

"You've seen something, haven't you?" he said excitedly.

Peter looked momentarily confused, then glanced toward the front of the car, where Fidelis was now sitting in the passenger seat, and frowned at Valentine.

"You'll tell me later?" Valentine whispered.

Peter nodded and went to wish his guardian a pleasant journey to his new home. He shook Fidelis's hand warmly. Though he had never really hit it off with Fidelis -- the chemistry between them had not been quite right -- he appreciated Fidelis's dedication to his task of looking after his friars, a task recently made more difficult by the unwelcome arrival of a visitor from the past. Now, Fidelis had been called away to serve elsewhere, and a new guardian was about to arrive.

Valentine walked round to the driver's door and seated himself once more in the car. He turned to his passenger. "Is that everything now? Is there anything else you'd like to take with you?"

"Nothing, thanks," Fidelis assured him. "I've everything I need. I'm traveling light." He smiled. It was a happy smile.

Fidelis did indeed appear to be traveling light -- in more ways than one. While Valentine was not surprised that his guardian should be leaving with so little luggage -- for what personal possessions did a friar vowed to poverty amass? -- he was surprised that Fidelis should be leaving with such a light heart. Not only was he off to a tough new posting, exchanging a quiet rural parish for a troubled inner city parish whose priest had gone awol in scandalous circumstances, but he was forsaking a close personal friendship -- to put it no higher than that -- yet he seemed to have no regrets; in fact he looked as if he couldn't wait to be on his way.

Valentine watched his guardian give a final wave to Peter and the other friars who had come to wish him well.

You have to hand it to him, he thought admiringly. A word from the Provincial, and he's packed his bag, ready to leave. There's obedience for you! He's an example to us all.

As he pulled away down the drive, he glanced in his mirror and saw that the cat had joined the assembled friars watching the departing car.

As Peter turned to go back into the friary, he noticed the cat standing beside him, and bent to stroke him. Though deeply uneasy in the cat's presence, he was anxious to show him that he wanted them to be friends. Well, it's only sensible to be on good terms with such a creature.

As if reading his mind, and being ready for a petting, the cat purred and led the way back to the porch. He jumped once more onto one of the benches lining the walls and meowed encouragingly.

Peter took the hint and sat down beside him. As he stroked the smooth fur, he remembered the cat's unexpected show of affection toward Fidelis a few minutes earlier. It had been so obvious as to be unmissable.

Maybe, as Fidelis had jokingly surmised, the animal had known he was leaving and had been expressing his pleasure at seeing the back of him. Yet somehow Peter didn't think so. The cat's display of good will had seemed to be genuine. It was as if Leo had wanted Fidelis to know that he, for his part, had put their differences behind him. Time to let bygones be bygones had been his unmistakable message.

So unmistakable as to be... what was the word that had sprung into his mind earlier? Ostentatious. Yes, that was it. The cat's display of affection had been ostentatious. Theatrical.

Theatrical… hmm. Peter remembered that that word had occurred to him after the scene in the cemetery. The dramatic reappearance of the late Father Egbert and the late Brother Jerome had been completely overshadowed by the even more dramatic vanishing act performed by the cat.

As he stroked the creature's furry back, Peter relived the episode in the graveyard. He watched the ghost of Egbert, seemingly exasperated with the posthumous wanderings of his brother-in-spirit, turn to the cat and wave a hand despairingly in Jerome's direction. He heard him say to the cat, "Do something about him. Please!" He watched Leo step over the coping stone and onto the grave, as if answering the plea, and join the two apparitions. Then the cat had looked archly, teasingly, across at him out of blazing golden eyes, as if to say, "Watch this!" -- knowing he was about to dazzle him with a display of his powers -- had stretched out a paw, for all the world as if he had been holding a magic wand, and had simply disappeared along with the two ghosts.

He had vanished. Just like that. And his vanishing had been far more frightening than the vanishing of the two ghosts, for ghosts are known for disappearing -- it's expected of them, part of their job -- but flesh-and-blood cats aren't. Yet this cat had disappeared. One moment he was there, the next he was gone.

Yet, a few minutes later, on returning to the friary, he had found Leo sitting on a bench in the porch, washing his paws as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Peter recalled how he had collapsed onto the bench himself and had nervously run his hand along the animal's back, half-expecting his hand to pass through the fur. But he had found himself stroking the fur of a flesh-and-blood cat. There had been nothing insubstantial about the creature, despite his having vanished into thin air a few minutes earlier.

Now, as then, Peter ran his fingers along the ridges of the cat's backbone, then slid his hand round to the silky chest and felt the steady, regular heartbeat. He patted Leo's head, then resumed stroking his smooth back. He breathed deeply, trying to calm himself, trying to slow his own frantic heartbeat. Then he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes.

Peter's hand trembled as he petted the cat.

What kind of creature sat beside him? The cat seemed solid enough. He had bones and flesh and fur and a heartbeat. And yet he could magic himself away into nothingness.

Magic. Peter repeated the word to himself, and the more he thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed.

The cat had performed a magic trick when he had disappeared in the company of two ghosts. He had stepped onto the grave as if onto a stage, looked at his audience with an archness that had been quite actorly, stretched out a paw like a conjuror with a wand, and performed a piece of prestidigitation that had left the spectator gasping with disbelief. He had put on a show, starring himself and with a supporting company of ghosts. It had been a piece of pure theatre, lacking only a drum roll and fanfare.

The episode in the porch had been another piece of theatre. Peter reviewed the tableau -- the cat sitting on the bench, with Fidelis standing uncertainly before him -- and it occurred to him that there had been something a touch judicial about the proceedings. Maybe the cat's presence in the porch at the precise moment that Fidelis had been leaving the building for the last time had not been coincidental. Leo appeared to have a taste for drama: had he staged a final scene of judgment, pardon and reconciliation?

Peter wondered if he was letting his imagination run away with him. And yet, the cat had made a big show of making up with Fidelis before his departure; why, he had all but shaken hands with him and wished him all the best. Come to that, how had he known Fidelis was leaving for good, and not just going off on holiday for a few days? Certainly he had known: he had been saying goodbye and not au revoir.

Peter caressed the soft fur warily. He was mystified by the cat. He was mystified by Fidelis, too. He couldn't understand his guardian's eagerness to take up his new posting and his anxiety to be away.

Fidelis had wanted to be in his new parish as soon as possible. This had surprised them all, for he had become a frequent visitor to the new parishioner's cottage on the hillside -- nothing unusual about that, perhaps, for he had always been regarded as a ladies' man. Yet when asked by the Provincial to take on the care of a difficult parish miles away, he had agreed instantly and had gone to pack his suitcase. His readiness to move on had impressed the friars. They would all have gone if asked, of course, but they wouldn't have wanted to, for who would choose to exchange a country parish for an inner city one, especially one in a state of turmoil, the circumstances being what they were?

It's all very curious, Peter thought. There was no telling with folk.

When Valentine returned from the station, he searched for Peter but could not find him, and discovered he had gone to celebrate Mass at the nearby convent in place of Fidelis, whose sudden departure had necessitated the drawing-up of an emergency rota for sacerdotal duties. He next saw him at teatime and did not have the chance for a private word with him, but whatever had troubled Peter earlier clearly no longer troubled him, for, his poise recovered, he sat laughing and joking with those around him.

The friars were looking forward to seeing their new guardian the next day, for they all remembered Father Aidan from previous postings and knew him to be an even-tempered, good-natured sort, who understood the value of harmony in a community such as theirs, where people had to get along together or they all suffered. While not as charismatic as Fidelis undoubtedly was, Aidan was easy to get on with. He had been a guardian before, and a popular one, for he allowed those in his charge space of their own. He gave them room, and it was appreciated. They chatted eagerly about his impending arrival.


***

Mid-morning, a battered red station wagon drew up outside the front door of the friary. It was a car that had had a number of drivers, for it had been passed around various friars within the Order before being allocated to its current owner, and its many dents and scratches bore witness to their differing levels of skill. Aidan walked round to lift his luggage from the wayback.

Father Oliver, glancing out of a window, noticed the vehicle and hurried outside. Beaming at his new guardian, he picked up the suitcases and waited for Aidan to lock the car. "It's good to see you again," he said warmly, his round, rubicund face lit with pleasure. He ushered his guardian into the friary. "I'll show you to your room." As they made their way along the corridor, he inquired, "Did you have a good trip?"

"It wasn't too bad, thanks." Aidan sounded rather weary. "There were a few slowdowns on the way. Did Fidelis get away all right yesterday?"

Oliver nodded. "Yes, he caught the train at three o'clock. He left his car here, of course. You'll probably want to use it yourself -- it's a new one. It's very nice," he added admiringly. "I've driven it a few times."

"I don't need a new car," Aidan said sharply. "The one I have will do fine. It's old, but there's nothing wrong with it. It gets me from A to B."

"Oh, er, right." Oliver, taken aback at the asperity of his tone, let the subject drop. It sounded as if Aidan thought a new car was a luxury they didn't need. Glumly, he pushed open the door to Aidan's room and stood aside politely as his guardian entered.

Aidan looked around impassively and said nothing.

Oliver deposited the suitcases on the bed, and, wondering if his guardian's silence indicated dissatisfaction with the accommodation, walked briskly to the door at the far end of the room, flung it open with a flourish and announced proudly, "Your ensuite shower room."

Again, he failed to meet with the reaction he had been expecting.

Aidan strode across to inspect the area, but far from expressing his appreciation of the facilities, asked tartly, "How long has this been here?"

"Erm, about a year," Oliver said. Hesitantly, he added, "We all have them."

"Do you now?" Aidan remarked frostily. "That must have cost the Order a pretty penny."

"A local chap installed them for us," Oliver said miserably. "I don't think he charged a lot."

"Well, I think I'll be having a look at the accounts," Aidan said, the frost in his voice having turned to ice.

"Er, right." Oliver shuffled his feet unhappily. He wondered what to say next. After a short silence he ventured, "Can I get you anything? A cup of tea? Coffee?"

"Nothing, thanks. I'll get unpacked, then I'll be down to see you all." Aidan glanced at his watch. "You still have prayers at noon, I take it?"

"Oh, yes," Oliver assured him enthusiastically.

"Good. You all attend, of course?"

"Of course." Oliver edged toward the door. "Well, if there's nothing you need for the moment, I'll, er, get back downstairs."

"I'll see you later," Aidan said. "Thanks for fetching my luggage."

"You're welcome. It's nice to see you again. I'll let the chaps know you're here." Oliver shut the door quietly. He groaned to himself as he made his way back along the corridor. This wasn't the Aidan they had been expecting. What had happened to the man? He seemed to have had some sort of personality change. Was he ill? Something was up with him, for sure.

Oliver's usually cheerful face was gloomy as he quickened his pace and made for the lounge. He'd better get the chaps rounded up and into the chapel, ready for prayers at noon. He just hoped everyone was in; he suspected, though, that one or two of the friars had gone out for the day. Oh dear, it looked as if life was going to be a bit harsher than it had been under Fidelis; he had a nasty feeling that stricter times lay ahead.

A delicious smell of food cooking wafted toward him from the direction of the kitchen and Oliver remembered that Ignatius was preparing a special lunch to welcome Aidan. Oh dear, he thought again. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to greet their new guardian with a slap-up meal. Oliver groaned aloud. Good food was one of the pleasures of life, and Ignatius was a divine cook. He hoped Aidan wasn't against eating -- he seemed to be against just about everything else. The omens weren't good. He sighed as he turned toward the lounge. Passing the friary cat sunning himself on a windowsill, he paused to stroke him.

The cat remained where he was for a moment or two, then yawned and jumped down. He sniffed appreciatively, licked his whiskers and padded along toward the kitchen.

 

 

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Author Bio

Robina lives in the U.K. She has an M.A. in Modern Languages from Oxford University, and an M.Phil. research degree in English Literature from Liverpool University. She has been a schoolteacher, a college lecturer, a secretary, and a features writer for magazines and newspapers.

She thought that Schrödinger's Cat--a cat that is both alive and dead at the same time--would be a useful character for fantasy novels. Jerome and the Seraph, the first book in her Quantum Cat series, was published in trade paperback by Twilight Times Books in 2004. Angelos was published in 2006, and Gaea appeared in 2009. Robina is currently writing the fourth book in the series.

You can contact her at robinawilliams@hotmail.com

 

###

 

Angelos Copyright © 2003. Robina Williams. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

  Author News

 

  Reviews

Death has done nothing to stop Brother Jerome's busy life. Now, rather than remain in his friary in prayer and contemplation, he tours the afterlife, usually in the presence of his feline companion, Leo, a.k.a. Quant, the cat with the ability to travel in time and space through quantum leaps. In this sequel to Jerome and the Seraph, Williams tells a twofold tale of one priest stranded in the ancient labyrinth of Knossos and another struggling with his own search for holiness-with only a small but very unusual cat to guide them both. With its graceful hominess, quiet humor, and abiding faith, Angelos belongs in most fantasy, Christian fantasy, or New Age collections.

Library Journal (the Sci Fi column by Jackie Cassada).
 



Top rating of 10 from Dallas Franklin.

"Quant, the magical cat that leaps through various worlds and dimensions is back again and in action. In Angelos, the sequel to Jerome and the Seraph, Robina Williams weaves her own storytelling magic and Quant rises to the occasion. This is a fantasy ebook and written so superbly that you become totally engrossed in the tale and forget it's fantasy.

Robina accomplishes this task by not only bringing this world together with the 'dead world' but in Angelos she even incorporates the mythological world. It gives us a whole new perspective on the topic of time and old/new worlds and how they are happening 'now'. Both ebooks give you much to ponder while enjoying a great read.

In Jerome and the Seraph we're introduced to Brother Jerome who has an unfortunate accident in the friary cemetery. Ironically, he falls and bangs his head on a tombstone and is killed instantly. He's not quite sure where he is and when he connects with his beloved cat, Leo he soon learns Leo isn't the cat he thought him to be. Leo tells Jerome he prefers to be called Quant and then helps Jerome travel from the 'dead world' to the 'live world' with some bumps along the way. Some of the Brothers at the friary witness Brother Jerome coming and going and if that wasn't enough to spook them, Quant is seen doing the same thing.

All this spooking comes into play again as Angelos opens with the arrival of the new Guardian of the Order, Father Aidan. The Brothers have all been enjoying a rather relaxed atmosphere but that all changes as Father Aidan begins to impose some strict rules while dealing with his own faith.

As Father Aidan lives through his dark night of the soul, he finds redemption and renewed faith in God through a number of well-known paintings that comes to summation with Dali's "Christ of St John of the Cross." Robina's writing talent connects all the worlds in an astounding tale.

She keeps you reading as you learn what makes each character tick and makes the story even more interesting when Brother Jerome, by another fluke accident, takes a quantum leap to the labyrinth of a Minotaur and the Minotaur ends up at the monastery.

We meet many mythological creatures, gods of the 'old world' and even get to see some characters in other past lives. Or is it a past life? It's a whole new perspective on 'time' and living in the 'now'. While learning all this you're transported to worlds that come to life in a fascinating way.

I loved Angelos as much as Jerome and the Seraph and if you like reading fantasy I'm sure you'll love it too. I highly recommend this ebook and give it a top rating of 10!"

Reviewed by Dallas Hodder Franklin for Sell Writing Online.
 


This is another thrilling adventure of Brother Jerome and his friend Leo the friary cat. If you have not met these two, let me introduce you. Brother Jerome is a recently deceased friar who still visits his old home to check up on his friends. Leo is the friary cat. He is more then he seems. In fact, Leo is a quantum cat, a cat that is alive and dead at the same time. Because of this, Leo or Quant as he is sometimes known serves as Father Jerome's guide and guardian in all his afterlife adventures.

Back at the friary, things are not going well either. The brothers have a new guardian Aidan who has the reputation of being easygoing. When he arrives, they discover he has changed. He is now very strict and rule abiding, something that that they are not. How will the brothers survive this unexpected change? What does Brother Jerome learn on his adventures through Greece?

I loved this book. I was ready to go out and buy it and the other books in this series the minute I finished this one. I strongly recommend this book for everyone. The author's ability to blend serious religious topics, art and fantasy together is something I have not seen since my last trip to Narnia. So if you love that series or you miss Middle Earth or it has been a while since you have seen the inside of Hogwarts do yourself a favor and try these books.

Reviewed by Mary Ebert for eBook Reviews Weekly.
 


“In Angelos, the sequel to Jerome and the Seraph, we meet the quantum cat again. When this cat is around, nothing is quite what it seems. Leo, the friary cat who can dance through dimensions is still keeping a protective eye on his friend, Brother Jerome. Jerome is still finding the novelty of the afterlife intriguing. Until a rock fall in the Minotaur’s labyrinth sets off a quantum leap.

The Minotaur finds himself in a garden shed in the friary garden and Jerome lands in a maze of corridors and caverns below ground; trapped in the labyrinth. The cat is the only one who can rescue him. The Minotaur wants to get back to his labyrinth, to make an offering to Father Zeus, highest and best of gods. At its first meeting with the cat with the golden eyes the Minotaur thinks it is a god.

Meantime, in the friary, Brother Fidelis has gone to a new posting and the new father, Aidan, is not as easy to get on with. Father Aidan is struggling across a desert that is the barren wasteland in his soul. And his friars are suffering. Friars Peter, Oliver, Ignatius and Bernard didn’t need a guardian in the throes of a personal religious revival. Perhaps things had got a bit slack around the friary but there was no need to go to extremes. No one was actually breaking rules-were they? But their Guardian thinks he knows what’s best for the friars in his care-strict adherence to timetables to keep them to the right path.

The Minotaur is finally returned to his labyrinth, and curious Jerome is taken on a tour of the “Old World” by Quant. He visits Crete, King Minos's palace, Zeus’s cave. He sees Talos, the giant guarding Crete, the white-winged Pegasus, the Sibyl and goes to Rome to meet many more characters from mythology. Jerome is still puzzled by the ‘time’ thing. Maybe it’s not as linear as he’d supposed. In fact Jerome is puzzled by many things. Is Quant a cat or a lion or the cat at two stages of its existence? Brother Jerome does not realize that he is a reincarnation of the great St Jerome-and, as a saint, is protected by Quant in the form of a lion.

At the conclusion of Angelos, Jerome is joined by a companion on the other side. Quant convinces Jerome the Minotaur is not a monster-just a different shape. Shapes mean nothing. It’s what is in the heart that matters. And this story is full of heart. If you enjoyed Robina Williams's first book you will enjoy this sequel so much more-as I did. Angelos is filled with humor and wisdom.”

Reviewed by award winning author Tricia McGill
 



Brother Jerome hasn't let a small thing like death get in the way of his adventures. Although now able to travel wherever he'd like, he still finds himself drawn back to the friary where he spent a lot of his living years and is still home to his friends and a very special cat called Quant.

For although Quant seems to be just a domestic pet, he is that and also not, he is alive, but can travel to the past, future, present and also to the spiritual realms. Brother Jerome finds himself in the friary's garden shed while waiting for his friend, the keen gardener, Brother Bernard.

In Ancient Crete, a heavy rockfall sets of a quantum jump and Brother Jerome soon finds himself in the Minotaur's Labyrinth and the Minoutaur finds himself stuck in a shed in a world not his own.

Meanwhile, back at the the friary, the friars have a new Guardian, Father Aiden, a man they remember from old as being a jolly chap who enjoys life. But the Aiden who takes up the new position seems to have all joy sucked out of him and gets stricter by the day, especially with himself. For Father Aiden is having a crisis of faith and can see no way out of it.

Back on Crete, Jerome wanders lost round the maze and panics when he comes across a room filled with bones. Quant is the only one who can help him now...

A sequel to Jerome and the Seraph, Angelos is still a unique book all its own.

What if the old gods never really left? As well as the Minotaur, we like Jerome, find ourselves transported to Ancient Greece and visit with the old gods there.

Blending elements of mysticism, mythology, quantum theory and art history, it is a tale like no other. The star of the show is of course, Quant, but the Minotaur comes a close second. For this Minotaur is no monster, out to eat everyone in sight, but normally a vegetarian who enjoys reading books and drinking wine, rather than having to eat the Athenian youths sent to him as tribute (they tend to get stuck in the teeth.)

Ms. Williams is an excellent story teller, for although short, this is a very imaginative tale, filled with memorable characters that stand out in your mind. If you are looking for something a bit different, then give Angelos a try.

A book to make you think.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of Drowning Rapunzel and Shadows of the Rose for Twisted Tales.

 

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