Two angels sat on a cloud, their legs dangling over, crossed at the ankles. They didn’t talk or even look at each other. In fact, neither one knew the other was there. They were both too engrossed in their newspapers.
And it just so happened that they were reading the same one. Today’s article was on 2012, supposedly the end of the world. Of course, all the angels knew that was ridiculous; that wasn’t scheduled until 2102. Humans were, once again, looking too far into things. In a compassionate, humorous way, the writer agreed.
As the first angel read, he said to himself, This man has truly been gifted. And when he reached the end and saw the advertisement, This must surely be God’s will.
As the second angel read, he said to himself, This man must have been great on Earth. And when he saw the advertisement, It would be unrighteous not to go.
They both flew away, one one way, the other another, still without noting each other’s existence.
But their meeting was meant to be. Later that very day, they bumped into each other just outside the pearly gates. They then took notice of each other for not often did anyone venture beyond.
“Why are you here?” The first angel asked curiously.
“Why are you here?” The second wondered aloud.
“I’m headed to a lecture down on Earth.”
“Me too. Who are you going to see?”
“Reil Nodham, the newspaper writer.”
“Again, me too.”
“Then it must be God’s will that we should go together.”
So they went, falling through cloud fluff and chatting all the way. The topics of wing care, harp playing, and nonviolent video games were discussed vigorously until finally the second angel said, “I don’t know how I feel about the location. Coming down here for entertainment feels unrighteous somehow.”
“I get what you mean. I feel like I’ve lost something, being here with no assignment, no purpose. Nodham must have a good reason. Maybe it has something to do with the mood he wants to portray. Artists are like that,” the first angel mused.
They came in sight of a city, its tall buildings sprawling up into the sky and its streets congested. The skyline was not unfamiliar to them. God often sent them to that particular piece of countryside. The place definitely needed their help. It was riddled through with poverty, disease, cruelty.
The angels flew close to the dark and light-colored heads below, eyes peeled for the address. The numbers and street signs whizzed by, but their divine sight caught every character. The four numbers 6336 jumped out and they stopped, hovering inches over the hard concrete.
The theatres’ front doors were spread wide, the inside dark. As the angels approached, the first, out of habit, knelt and kissed the head of the homeless man sleeping on the side walk. He started to snore.
The soft shine from their halos lit the hallway as they floated forward. Another set of doors stood open at the opposite end. Inside, their lights joined hundreds, maybe thousands, of others. Every possible place held an angel. All the white was blinding.
The pair scooted along the edges of the room, ‘excuse me’s and ‘sorry’s following close behind them. They finally found two seats whose cushions weren’t completely degraded by rats. Just as they got their heavenly suspended tushes situated, a voice boomed through the overhead speakers, “Ladies and gentleman, please dim your glows.”
Halos winked off like burned out stars. All eyes were on the heavy curtains stationed across the stage. They parted ranks and a collective gasp swept through the room.
Reil Nodham stood there, but he was definitely not an angel, nor was he a man. He had four arms, one set right on top of the other, and each hand possessed six dirt-encrusted nails of extraordinary length and sharpness. Only sparse clothing covered his body, allowing an open view of his scaly, cracked skin and thick, double-kneed legs. His face formed to a snout, teeth poking around and through his lips.
His most prominent feature however, was his horns. They curled long, in two directions, forming what appeared to be some twisted hairdo gone wrong. The color of oil, they devoured all the light around them.
He looked like a demon straight from hell. Which he was.
His smile was terrifying, his skin split and bleeding black. “Ah, it gives me such pleasure to see all your shining faces.”
The rush for the door was instant; everyone moving like salmon upstream. But they were locked in. Miniature, not-quite-as-terrifying versions of the demon on stage stood in the way, guarding the exit. And the angels could not overpower them for they could not touch their impurity.
As one, they fell to their knees and prayed, their voices loud in the enclosed area.
Plead the first angel, “This cannot be your will, oh God. Banish these demons from whence they came.”
Plead the second angel, “Oh Lord, save us from these unrighteous creatures that would seek to destroy us.”
Nothing happened. Minutes dragged by. The angelic words became laced with desperation. Jeering and taunting erupted from the demons, adding to the din.
Reil smiled and turned to a nearby devil, “Do you think he’ll give up the world now?”