Gabriel: a trans angel descension story

Ok, so working through some recent shame over the weekend pushed us into a creative, imaginative space during a run where we could imagine a TV mini-series playing out…

In this gritty, cruel, urban world, a man, Gabriel, is on the outskirts of legality is barely surviving. He and his friends rely on weapons, drug trade, and squatter’s rights in an abandoned factory in an American inner city. The War on Drugs is at its height, and Gabriel and his friends are the target.

  • social conservative christianity co-opted into white nationalism ala.

Gabriel is exceptionally gifted at defending himself and his friends, until one day he meets his match. In a violent altercation, his opponent cuts into his flesh… only to find that it isn’t human flesh underneath.

Gabriel is in an identity crisis. Beneath his human skin, something… otherworldly is lurking. At first, he denies it, hides it, refuses to talk about it. One day, his curiosity gets the better of him, and he cuts open a small piece of his face to see what’s underneath. Horrified, he finds eyes and faces unlike any he’s ever known. This is not his body. He’s not human. Most disturbingly, everything underneath the skin is distinctly… feminine. Who is he? She? What is this? An existential dread undercuts the rest of the series as Gabriel’s external body continues to fall apart revealing what’s underneath.

One of his friends studies esotericism, and upon learning about Gabriel, talks about a method he could find out who he truly is — by ascending to heaven using old Chariot Mysticism texts and confronting God Themselves about this. The path is dangerous, he warns — angels guard every tier to the final throne room. But he’s known a person who’s done it before, and come back alive to tell the tale.

Consulting the person (non-binary), they reveal the story is true, and they have tools and passwords for Gabriel and his-her friends. A rifle that stuns aggravated angels before they can destroy you. A list of passwords. The elder can’t go with them, though. They insist they would perish were they to see the throne of God again.

They ascend using the elder’s instructions, and begin their journey to confront God about Gabriel’s true identity. Angels are stunned, doors shoved into, passwords relayed, moments of conflict where Gabriel begins to recognize how much she — he? — fits into this realm, but his — her? — flesh also tears back down to Earth.

In a final scene with God, I have two endings in mind:

  • the throne room is empty, because God has chosen to be amoung the world
  • God is there, and tells Gabriel that his — her? — mixed identity and heritage was a deliberate act of creation, that Gabriel has a specific perspective to add to the Earth. Only he — she? — will have experiences of both masculine and feminine, of both human and divine
    • “humans created the idea that I create them for a purpose. As if I would create them only to see them to a final goal, and then discard them! I create because I love. And love to the humans is a despicable, messy thing.”
    • The throne room isn’t a room at all — it’s a gardened landscape
    • “I created you because I knew you because I love you because I had known that I had created you because…”
    • Gabriel’s real name is revealed…
    • In a final scene, Gabriel is back on earth, freely shifting their body back and forth between the human and angelic, freely shifting between Gabriel and their angelic name.

Music for tone:

  • THRASH playlist: Pleasant by SebastiAn, Too Deep by Girl Talk, Cock/ver 10 and Obgyjya-Switch7 by Aphex Twin
  • Trans playlist: Tainted Love by Soft Cell, Stadium West by L7

“What everybody gets wrong about encountering the divine and why almost everybody winds up dead, is that they picture it as an ascent upwards into heaven.”

“… isn’t it?”

He sighed. “I don’t blame you. I thought the same. But it’s actually the opposite. At least, from the human vantage point.

That is, God is found at the depths of a descent. A descent into a kind of hell.”

“God’s… in hell.”

“Have you ever had someone love you, Gabriel? Like, really, deeply, truly love you?”


“Let me tell you. It feels like hell. It feels like hell to be loved. And God is the most intense kind of love in existence, the essence of love itself.”

Sammie laughed. “You sound like a Christmas card or somethin’.”

“You laugh, but it almost tore me apart. I… I couldn’t stand to look Them in the face.”

“So you’re not coming with us,” I said looking straight at him. Somehow I felt naked. Exposed. Two kids, lost, high, and drunk, talking to a crazy guy for crazy advice. How to meet God.

“No, Gabriel. It would tear me to shreds, I’m afraid.”

He shoved the papers in my chest — maps, passwords, translations of some kind of Angelic script.

“Good luck with being loved.”

And we were turned out on the street again. The streetlight’s yellow hum in full effect, sounding only louder and louder as we walked back to the brickworks. As the cars passed us, full & bright headlights wearing into the back of my eyes, I tried to keep myself busy by finding the face behind the car. A lone woman. A man and his kids. An old couple fighting. Lots of lonesome faces. Were they ready to be loved? Was I?

“Shit,” Sammie said. “Another part of you.”

I turned around, dreading what he meant. My skin — my human form — flaked off again, this time a piece of my forearm. Less than half a nickel in size, but it felt massive. This abrasion, this sudden patch of pure white underneath it all. My real body… the real me… maybe it was tired of me and all my bullshit. Maybe it just wanted off.

He picked it off, this patch of skin off the ground. It was like I dropped a baseball and he was just handing it to me, for all he seemed to care. “Here,” he said, offering it to me in his hands.

“Sammie.” I said. I just looked him in the eyes. I didn’t know what else he needed me to say…

“What? Won’t your body take it back?”

I couldn’t speak. I just couldn’t.

“Gabe, it’s—”

“It’s not my fucking body!!” I shot back. He just stood there, looking at me, stunned.

“There’s no going back! There’s no getting my body back! There’s nothing there to get back! I’m… I’m a…”

I didn’t want to say it. I didn’t want to say the fucking word. But I couldn’t just go on not saying it, never saying it. I couldn’t look at him, and opened my mouth.

“I’m an angel in a human body. I think. I think. I think. Goddamn, what the fuck am I saying, anyways?”

My voice was shaking. I couldn’t stand anymore.

“I’m… I’m not Gabe. I don’t know who I am, what I am. Am I human? Is this skin mine? Is this face mine? Is Gabe my actual name?? What the fuck is going on??”

My whole body was shaking. Maybe the quack was right. Maybe the worst thing in the world was the truth. The goddamn truth that bit right into me, that made me just want to… fade away. Not be here. Not be in this stupid goddamn upside-down world. An angel in a human body. Two perverts hooked on crack on a trip to meet God in hell. Nothing made goddamn sense.

I only realized I was crying when he wiped my face. “Look, I don’t know what to call you. I don’t know what you are either. I just know… oh, I don’t know.”

He was never good with speeches. Neither was I. But I caught his drift.

“Thanks, Sammie.”

It was just another silent stare from him. A slight smile that meant both laughter and respect. Eyes that carried the whole heavy world with him. He extended out a hand to me, the same one I’ve held a hundred times. He pulled me back to my feet.

“Let’s sleep on it?”


ALT ending: “Well, have I got myself a treat today!”

Dirty Harry, the chief and his boys were back.

(Beginning of a fight between corrupt cops, an allied gang, and Gabe and Sammie. Fight ends on more of Gabe’s body falling apart, shocking Harry and his boys with what’s underneath.)


  • Shape of Water
  • Lovecraft story about becoming a fish-monster (overtones of racist fears of mixed-race marriage)
  • ESOTERICA’s content on ascension literature
  • 1960’s american chapter in
  • Thomas’ encounter with Carlos
  • Spec Ops the Line / Vietnam war movie / “Mistah Kurtz, he dead.”
  • Emotional overtones of previous attempt at novel, These Three Doors
  • Reality of American inner cities in the 80’s, hip hop documentaries, what happened after the collapse of the Black Panthers?
  • The harsh social oppression of the first episodes of

The need for material difference in environment in the story… currently the environments that I can think of to set the story in are all quite harsh…

  • the abandoned brickworks that Gabe and Sam squat in
  • The dimly lit streets at night they walk on
  • “Heaven”, which is a mostly blank white Matrix-like space in my mind’s eye right now, with the exception of angel-guards and ornate doors and flaming swords
  • The “throne-room” or garden where the encounter with God occurs, currently the only space where nature and humanity both thrive
  • A prison environment of painted-over concrete blocks

what makes life worth living for Gabe and Sam? What environments are there that they can enjoy and be themselves, even with constraints or consequences?

  • a hideout of like-minded friends who scramble together resources and fend for themselves. A constraint — they suspect Gabe and Sam’s gay relationship and embody a kind of machismo? Previous beef with Gabe and Sam, or resentment that they broke off? Only so much food to go around?
  • A queer club where other gays on the run congregate. A constraint — strong hookup culture where sex and bodies can be commodified, risk of getting raided by the cops
  • A Local church where quiet, calm, and some social support can be found. Constraint — socially conservative so drug use, homosexuality condemned
  • Homeless shelters. Only so many beds, and homosexuals tend to be targeted for attacks.

!! This is why Gabe is so upset at his trans-angelic reality — his-her very body is seemingly the cause of them getting so much more rejected in daily life and struggling to survive. It was already hard enough when Sam insisted on being with him… and pretending to be straight everywhere they were together. Now being this monstrosity, how will they be able to survive?