The issue with heaven is timekeeping, really. Purgatory’s the most obvious symptom of that. When you’re running an endless realm, filled with immortals glorifying things, it’s easy to lose track of how much time has actually passed. You end up ignoring virtuous souls for a few thousand years and pretending that they just needed time for quiet reflection.

Seriously, it’s a big issue. Not massive, obviously, because the place is literally paradise, but something of a headache. Everything gets done on the “epoch” time frame, rather than the human one.

I’m mostly just making excuses though. Mea Culpa. I should have been there on time. It was June’s kid, and I owed her a favour, so I should have made the effort.

Naturally then, when I realised that I was late (and that June would be furious – she’s always been good at righteous wrath), I got a move on.

I streaked down from the celestial sphere as a shooting star, causing some nearby astronomers to get very excited – they hadn’t been expecting a meteor shower.

I didn’t have time for discretion though – June’s voice is one of the most glorious of the angelic choir, except when she’s mad, and then it is the last noise you ever want to hear. Hitting the ground hard enough to leave a crater, I scanned about for the kid.

He was in the process of getting mugged, hand holding his wallet and halfway extended to the thugs. It wasn’t getting any closer to them though, because the whole mugging had been put on hold: both the boy and the muggers were staring, open-mouthed, at the angel who had just landed in the alley way.

I’m not boasting here, but I’m a pretty impressive sight to mortals. Nearly seven feet tall, snow white robes, hair that shines like spun gold. The wings are a big part of it too – fourteen feet across, and glowing like the pearly gates. Or, to pick a more relatable simile, like a really bright lightbulb.

The sword’s quite an eye-catcher too, to be fair. It’s not just that it’s on fire; humans are good with fire, they quite like it. But there’s sort of a genetic memory thing, all the way back to the first two. Instinctively, people know that this is the same kind of sword that wards them off from Eden. That’s a sore point still, even if they don’t realise it.

I took advantage of the pause, the quivering lower jaws of the muggers, and swooped the kid up. He didn’t resist at all really, hanging limp from my hand as I took off again, rising into the sky. I beat my wings hard, forcing us upwards despite the extra weight.

Above the clouds, I did the magic. Said the words in the approved “voice of god” boom, awoke the power within him, and let go.

He screamed and fell. I watched him plummet through the clouds, heading straight back down to the hard tarmac of the alleyway.

A long moment passed. I began to worry that I’d made a mistake. Was that definitely June’s kid? Could it have been one of the muggers? Had I just dropped a mortal on its fragile head?

It’s frowned upon, in heavenly circles, to kill God’s last creation. The sort of thing that gets you relegated to standing guard over the beds of lisping children who say the right prayers. Not the best assignment.

Light bloomed far below me – a flash of brilliant gold that lit the city like the sun had been turned up to eleven. That would really give the astronomers something to talk about.
The light didn’t dim, exactly. It drew back, focused on a single point, just as bright but not as far reaching. Then it shot up towards me.

They always overshoot on the first flight, scorching past you on wings that don’t quite work the way they think they should. It takes a few weeks for the newbies to really get the hang of it; it’s not about the power of each downbeat, but the angle of the wings.

All credit to the kid though, he recovered faster than most, topping out only a mile or so above me. Little bit of a spin as he worked out how to hover, but he did managed to end up still and the right way up.

I don’t care how long you’ve been alive, how many cities you’ve razed and demons you’ve wrestled with. There’s something about a herald of the Lord approaching you that hits deep. The slow, powerful beat of the wings as they control their descent, the blazing eyes and sheer sensation of power and glory. No one’s immune to that. I got chills all down my wings.

When he spoke, his voice rang like the trumpets on the last day, a clarion call that echoed about me and must have been heard by every celestial on the plane. It was the voice that cast the serpent upon his belly, that chastised Job, that will herald the Messiah’s return. It was bloody loud.

Long story short, introductions were made. I gave him a few pointers on toning down the full effect a little, told him to apologise to his mum for me. Then I handed him off to one of the cherubim – I’m generally more of a big picture kind of guy, annunciations and deluges rather than orientation.

I hear he’s doing well – a couple of salvations under his belt already, and pulling his weight in the battle against the powers of darkness. I saw him wound Apollion, actually, in a skirmish over the Atlantic that I dropped in on. Quite an achievement for a youngster. I’ll check up on him in an aeon or so, for his mother’s sake. I need to keep on her good side.

I wrote this after a complaint that Heritage was anti-climactic. This is a sort of sequel to Heritage, though it can stand on its own.

Just like with Heritage, I tried to get the voice right, aiming for a balance between a gregarious character and full-on religious rhetoric. Hopefully it worked, though any criticism/suggestions for improvement are welcome.

More stories.



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