Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Heavenly Snafus(“I’ll take those spokes from your wheelchair and a magpie’s wings, and I’ll tie them to your shoulders and your feet.” – Tom Waits)
This was not the first time Michael and Aaron had been on the carpet; specifically, the carpet in front of His desk.
In the past errors had been made, problems had arisen and bringing them to Him had always led to some sort of solution that was beyond the comprehension of mere immortals. That did not seem likely this time. This time they had apparently missed the error. This time it had been picked up by Upper Management.
This time they had been Summoned.
Oh, sure, he seemed like a pretty easy going sort of boss. Ok, so he had implemented an open door policy a thousand years before any mortal CEO had the idea. But then again, no mortal CEO had the power to smote.
Aaron glanced over at Michael, who was tapping his wings nervously.
“Smote”, he burbled. “It’s such an onomatopoeic word.”
He slapped his hands together and rubbed them. “Smote. As in splat or squish or maybe even squelch.”
Michael turned slowly and looked at Aaron as though he had never seen him or his species before.
“Do you really think that’s helpful? Smote, splash, squish?”
Aaron glanced around the room, scanning for a convenient hiding place. He was tossing up between the document shredder and the Japanese Peace Lily when suddenly the door behind him slammed open, rebounded off the wall, and was only prevented from shutting again by a large rough, hand that caught it and slammed it open again.
The two angels spun around, their eyes open wide. A large man with a huge white beard stomped into the room with his head down. He was apparently unaware of their presence, as he paid them no attention and muttered darkly to himself as he crossed the room, swung a lurid tartan golf bag off his shoulder and thrust it into a locker.
The old man turned from the locker toward the desk and finally saw Michael and Aaron cringing by the desk. His scowl softened somewhat. But not a lot.
“Oh. Hello, boys. We got a meeting, right?”
Aaron nodded rapidly. “Yes, Sir”, he stammered. He pulled a wrinkled sheet of paper out of his pocket and held it out in his trembling fingers. “You sent us a memo.”
“Ahh, how was the game, Sir?” Michael ventured.
The old man sighed and moved to his chair behind the desk.
“Well,” he said, “I’ll tell ya dis for nothing, my slice aint getting any better. I was playing against the Pope.”
“Really? Which one, Sir?”
“Oh, I forget. One of the more recent ones I tink. But just you wait until I get Greg Norman up here to give me a few pointers. Dat’ll take that the grin off that schmuck.”
Some years before He had assumed the accent of a New York City Jew and seemed comfortable with it ever since. No-one asked why. It was pretty much accepted that He moved in mysterious ways.
“Now, boys, down to business. We got a problem coming. I don’t know how we missed it, but we did, and now we need to fix it.”
The angels both began to speak at once, stammering apologies. The old man raised his hands to silence them.
“Boys, boys, boys. I aint blaming anyone or looking for no scapegoats, so lose the “please don’t smote me” looks, if you don’t mind. Take a seat.”
He gestured toward the two plump, leather-look armchairs that sat facing the desk. Michael and Aaron sat quickly, perching on the very front of each chair. According to office legend, to lean into the soft stuffing was akin to falling backwards into quicksand. The Boss sat back and tapped his fingers on the desk.
“Now, boys, as you know life on Earth aint no picnic. It was never meant to be. Living is tough, hard work. You gotcha challenges, you gotcha strife. You gotcha famine, poverty, disease, politicians and natural disasters. Let’s face it, you gotcha Acts of Me.”
The Angels nodded in agreement. It was no secret that He thought a little hardship built character.
The old man continued.
“But! All that hard stuff has to be balanced with good. Love, family, hope. If there wasn’t balance it would all seem pointless. It would be pointless.”
“Yes, Sir,” said Michael. “We understand the principles of balance. That’s why we have the Special souls. The souls that we place on Earth that touch other souls, that bring joy, that love generously and help others love by example, that make it all worthwhile.”
The old man beamed and the room filled with light.
“Dat’s it exactly. I couldn’t have put it better. Now, as you know those souls are strategically placed to touch as many lives as possible. And right dere lies our problem.”
The Boss pulled a large roll of paper from his top drawer and unrolled it across His desk, weighing down each end with a Garden of Eden snow globe. He waved the angels closer.
“This is a map of that big island down the bottom, you know da one.”
“Yes, Sir,” Aaron laughed for the first time since coming into the office. “Yes, Sir, it’s where you made the funny jumping animals. Oh, oh, oh and that hilarious little hairy duck rat lizard thing . . .”
The air grew a little chillier. There was a period of uncomfortable silence.
“I tink you’ll find it’s called a platypus. And everyone is entitled to the occasional mistake”, the old man said. “Which brings us back to the subject at hand.”
He indicated the map.
“In this region here toward the bottom we have a gap.”
The angels leaned closer and studied the overlapping circles that indicated the positive influence of the Special souls. Michael was shocked.
“How did we miss this?” he asked no-one in particular. “This is terrible. Even allowing for flow on effects of lives touching other lives, there is still a big gap here.”
“The important ting is to fix this, you know? We need to get a special soul down dere now. A really special soul. One dat will influence and illuminate as many lives as possible.”
Michael coughed. “Ah, Sir. I don’t quite know how to say this, but . . . Ah, we are all out of stock. We don’t have a single Special soul on hand.”
“Um, that’s not quite true, Michael” stammered Aaron. He turned to the Boss. “We do have your private stock, Sir.”
The old man jumped to his feet.
“Forget about it! You know I have plans for those souls. In 20 years, we got climate change, peak oil, increasing terrorism. I need those souls. Humanity will need those souls.”
“Yes, Sir. In 20 years”, said Michael gently.
“That’s right, Sir”, said Aaron. “If we can place one of those souls on Earth now, that time might be just enough to fill the void. But it will have to be the purest of souls. Sweet, gentle, open, and loving.”
The old man sat down slowly and looked at the map. He looked up into the faces of the angels and then down at the map again. He rubbed his hands as he silently cast his eyes over the map.
Finally He sat back in his chair and nodded.
“We have to do it, boys”, He said. “But dis is a terrible ting to have to do to a family. We are going to give dem one of our brightest lights and then we’re gonna take her away again.”
The angels nodded sadly.
“So, let’s make it worthwhile” the old man continued. “Send down my favourite and tell her I’ll see her in, oh, let’s make it 25 years.”
The two angels closed the door behind them as they left to make the arrangements.
The old man rolled up the map, placed it back in the drawer and leaned back into his chair. He sighed deeply and then smiled as the Soul’s new earthly name arrived in his mind.
“Sweet, gentle, open, and loving, huh?” he said under his breath. “Just be yourself, Emma Louise.”
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