It was the year 2020, and science was developing rapidly. Urban settlements now were all heavily mechanized, drawing more and more young pupils to seek apprenticeships in the machinery development areas. Technology became entwined with human life, and they coexisted in interdependence.
However, as opposed to the large cities, rural areas were left rather untouched by the scientific evolution. Deep in the hidden recesses of the land, lush forests supporting natural and simple lifestyles continued to be carried out.
One of such lifestyles belonged to a young boy, who lived on his own in a wooden cabin deep in the woods. He had no family, only his loyal pet dog to keep him company as he spent the days hard at work. The boy was aspiring to be a mechanic, just like those of the big cities, but with his country background and lack of professional training it was rather unlikely he would be accepted into the profession.
Despite these drawbacks, though, the boy had a kind heart and a strong determination. It was these very traits that unconsciously drew her to him that day...
It was an ordinary morning like any other, and the boy and his dog were out in the forest gathering firewood. The two were just about to head back, when the muffled sounds of someone's crying carried over to their ears, echoing through the trees with its sorrow. The boy thought to investigate, and followed the source of the noise to a small clearing.
There, under the canopy of luxuriant greenery and bathed in filtered golden sunlight, was a creature the boy had never imagined they'd ever come across.
Her skin radiated a soft and ethereal glow, her dress-- while plain-- seemed to be woven from a shimmery, translucent fabric, her long hair draped over her face like a silk curtain that obscured her face, and she wore no shoes despite the rough debris of the forest ground. But the most fascinating detail of this strange being was the single, pearly-white, bird-feathered wing that protruded out from her back.
The dog, realizing that this creature before them was very different from what it was used to, cautiously tucked itself behind its owner's legs. The boy didn't seem to notice, too entranced by the angel's presence.
As if she had sensed the newcomers, the angel's crying softened and her body shifted slightly.
A-are you alright? The boy spoke tentatively, not wanting to startle to delicate being.
Upon hearing his voice, she lifted her head, watery blue eyes peeking through the golden strands. I can't fly.
The boy inspected her once again, and found that the second wing was missing from her back. Where it should've been, an ugly, serrated scar took its place. In abject horror, he exclaimed loudly, Who-- who did this to you!?
The angel's eyes welled with tears and she burst back into choking sobs.
Realizing his mistake, the boy reached out a gentle, comforting hand to her. I'm sorry. It's okay, please don't cry. He thought for a moment, an idea forming inside his head. I-- I'll make you a new wing. So you don't need to feel sad anymore.
Hence the boy brought the angel to his home, and for the next few months, he worked fervently on his new project. He made a promise to the angel that one day, he'd get her to fly again.
After a long span of rigorous effort and struggle, the mechanical wing was finally completed. The boy, the dog, and the angel all stood together in an open field at the edge of the forest, ready for the long-awaited first flight.
The product of the boy's continuous labour was strapped onto the angel's back, alongside her real wing like a mirror image of feathers and gears, pure white and sterling silver. Right now, if one were to juxtapose the two, it was obvious which one was the fake. But in flight, the boy was confident they'd be indifferentiable.
Are you ready?
The angel flexed her wings, testing them out, getting used to the feeling of the mechanical one. Then she took a deep breath and nodded, her eyes shining with determination. The boy and the dog stepped aside, clearing a path for her to take flight. The two watched in awe as the angel spread her wings, took to the air with a graceful leap, and with a powerful whoosh, she was flying.
The angel's wings worked in perfect sync, supporting her weight and bringing her higher and higher into the sky. The boy watched from the ground as she soared upwards, towering high above even the tallest trees in the forest, a radiant beam of light and feathers. When she had flown so far that the boy could barely see her anymore, she turned around and waved at him.
The boy felt a wide, proud smile seep onto his face as he waved back. He'd done it. He'd helped the angel regain her wings and returned her to the sky. Looking up at the jubilant celestial being high above him, the boy felt a great sense of accomplishment. Yet there was something else, too, layered beneath the happiness. He knew that it was most likely just his own selfishness acting up, so he pushed the emotion away and returned his sights on the angel.
She was so beautiful as she flew through the air, the wind carrying her form elegantly through the vast expanse of blue backdrop, her wings reflecting the sun with a faint gold light--
The boy realized it too late. The blasts came first, and then the angel's scream as she plummeted towards the ground, her wings trailing grey smoke. The boy rushed to her aid, promptly dashing in her direction, leaving his dog behind in his hurry to reach her. As he neared the wall of trees in which he'd seen the angel drop behind, it was revealed to the boy the full extent of the damage.
The mechanical wing was broken beyond repair, laying in shattered pieces around the angel's collapsed form, while the other wing limply lay to her side, the white feathers stained red.
The boy started, not expecting the angel to have spoken first.
I'm sorry, she repeated, her words weak and barely louder than a whisper. I... was being selfish all along. I knew that I was being punished... that my wings were taken away for good reason... yet I still selfishly accepted your offer for a new one. I attempted to defy the laws of nature, and so this must be my retribution... I shouldn't have dragged you into this. I shouldn't have taken advantage of your kindness. I don't deserve it... I'm sorry...
The boy heard footsteps approaching in the distance, twigs snapping harshly underfoot as people were closing in on their location. He presumed they were belonged to the same people that had attacked the angel, now coming to claim their prize. They hadn't much time left.
Please forget about me. The angel's eyes met his, dull and struggling to stay focused. I deserve my fate for what I've done. You... should hurry and escape--
No! The boy's voice came out anguished yet vehement. Tears were forming in the corners of his eyes as he continued, It wasn't just you! I-- I was being selfish too, keeping you here with me. I told myself I was fixing your wings to help you, but it was a lie! I... I was lonely! I wanted you by my side, I wanted your company! So please... don't tell me to go...
The angel was weeping as well, her blue orbs alight with crystalline tears. I--
She was cut off by a loud snap, as a large tree branch was shoved aside and a small troop of huntsmen barged through. They were all well-built and roughly-dressed, each of them carrying various types of hunting equipment.
Well, it must be our lucky day, drawled the biggest man, holding a still-smoking rifle. I thought I'd shot down a giant bird, but this is so much better. Think we can sell it to those big city scientists for a huge sum, eh boys?
The boy dove in front of the angel, spreading out his arms in defense. No! You can't take her!
Another of the hunters sneered at him, And why not?
B- because she's my friend! The boy shouted, still shielding the angel from their attackers.
The huntsmen all snickered at him. The first one stepped forwards and easily knocked the boy down. He raised his rifle again to fire a tranquilizer at the angel, only for the boy to latch onto his arm, holding it back. The hunter ripped his arm out from the boy's grip, yelling at his companions to kill the boy.
More shots were fired. The boy raced forward to defend his friend, but a bullet hit his leg and he stumbled. Another shot lodged itself into his shoulder, and the boy fell to the ground. His vision was blurring, the world spinning, his limbs burning, everything in chaos-- until it all came to a sharp, screeching halt.
One of the hunters had hit the angel. She was already heavily wounded, and the second firing would've been near fatal. The huntsmen, realizing their mistake and panicked over being responsible for killing a sacred being, had all hurriedly left the scene.
The boy used his remaining strength to crawl over and rest next to the angel. He carefully entwined his hand in hers, giving it a reassuring squeeze. The last thing he heard before it all faded to black was her voice: Though the wing was fake, the feelings behind it held true. Thank you...
Now it was 2070, many years later into the era of flourishing science, and yet strangely there resides one single patch of forest that has remained completely unaffected by the new technology.
Common lore has it that it is protected by two guardian angels, that if one were to pause deep in the depths of the woods and look closely at the sky, they'd be able to see two winged figures flying together, hand in hand.