Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Reading Room

I’ve been around longer than anyone in the universe. In fact, I watched this place get created by the Big Man himself. I didn’t help, I just stood by and watched as it exploded into its intensively hot and magma-engorged sense of being. So many thing happened all at once and suddenly, gas turned into solids, planets were formed and then?

Well, then, within what seemed as though a blink of an eye, I watched you all evolve.

You would think you did – but from what I’m seeing, you haven’t really. You’re just better dressed, standing upright and have less hair than your ancestors did. But really, you still think with that primitive brain at the base of your skull an awful lot.

Yes, I find you all very disappointing.

But I’m not here to judge. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to watch. And I’ve been reading about your lives in the most interesting ways.
You see, dear Humans, you all have a shelf filled to the brim with a collection of notebooks when you’re born – and I mean the shelves are so full I can’t get any of them out. But as the years pass by, those notebooks lessen and increase in number.
It kinda depends on what you do in your life.
Do you catch that bus you’re running for now? Or do you wait for the next one which will be in a fatal accident – and you don’t know, but I do, because there’s that notebook where you die in a bus crash on this day?
Do you have a good day where you stay home in bed while you’re sick with a cold from work? Or do you push yourself to go to work and make yourself so much worse that they have to send you to a hospital where you end up in intensive care? And yes, your notebook on your shelf says that too.
Then, there’s those lives where when they’re born, their shelves are empty and there’s just one book on it. I don’t like it when this happens. This means this life isn’t very long, or there’s only one way they’ll live and die. And quite often I like to collect these people personally, mainly because I don’t get to see shelves like these all the time – and it’s not fair on the families.

But lately, my shelves have been looking kinda bare. I’m not sure what’s been happening. A lot of people’s notebooks have been disappearing from my reading room and they’ve been showing up in the veil too soon. I’ve asked questions in the Time-Keeper’s Quarters, but they’re not telling me anything.

Today, I walked into my reading room and found one book on each shelf. The room echoed emptily as I walked around to each row and read each of them. At first, I thought it was a joke; as the first few books said the same thing, ‘Mass extinction.’
Then, I went around to the next few and found they all said the same thing!
Looked up at the cavernous, darkened ceiling, I called out, “I don’t understand! You come here and tell me what you’re doing to your creation!”
“You’re demanding me to explain myself?” his voice was soft as he stood in front of me.
“So, you’re an old man?”
He shrugged as he took a seat across from me at my large desk, “Most people who know me call me Sheppard.”
Holding up one of the books, I raised my eyebrows, “A mass extinction? Really?”
Smirking, he snorted, “I’ve done it before a number of times. This time, it’ll be a clean slate again. And I’ll start over completely; and you’ll be here to help me.”
“No. As before, I stand by and that’s it.”
He rose from the seat, resting his fingertips on the table, leaning forward, “You said no to me? I created you.”
“No you didn’t. I came with the universe as it was created. I stood by and watched it explode to life, then saw you show up and take control. You don’t have any control over me. I can reap you – and will – if you don’t stop this.”
“Have you seen what they have done to Paradise?” he shouted, his voice echoing around the chamber of my reading room.
“Yes. And wasn’t it you who took off when things became too hard?” I snapped, “Leaving me to clean up your messes.”
Sheppard gave me a foul, baleful look before he turned his back on me, “I didn’t take off. I was ashamed of my children. I have been for a long time.”
“Tough luck, that’s what children do. But a mass extinction isn’t the answer.”
He looked at me, “You’re right.” A smile crept upon his face, “I might just get rid of you and see what happens next.”
“The next reaper who dies takes my place.” I said.
“I’ll fix it so that doesn’t happen, and other reapers will get greedy.”
I frowned, wondering what happened to him. Why was he doing this to the children he had created so long ago. Why was he becoming so willing to destroy when there was hope still left in the world?
“Why am I doing this?” he asked, “I’m doing this because I’m tired. I’m tired of getting my hands dirty.”
“You don’t have to.”
“But to get involved with them is getting them dirty.”
“Then why did you create them to begin with?”
He smiled, “It was just for fun – an experiment if you will.”
“And when it didn’t go to plan – your plan – you’re going to destroy it with a mass extinction?”
He nodded, “Why not? It’s my experiment.”
“For somebody who created souls, you certainly have no idea how to act like you have one.”
“I don’t have one.”
“I don’t either, but I have empathy.”
He groaned as he looked up at the ceiling, “Fine! They’ll stay.” He swept his hand over the shelves and they filled with notebooks again, “My, my, you’re annoying for something which takes souls.”
“I may be a Reaper – the big one with the scythe – but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel for those I reap.”
He rolled his eyes, “Yeah, yeah. I’m outa here.”
Just like that, he was gone from my reading room.
I thought he’d be more interesting. Still, to be that annoyed at a creation, only a couple of billion years into the experiment and to end it so soon? I’ve seen things go for much longer and end messier.
But then, I’m Death... I’m eternal.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Heaven Can't Wait

“We need your help, Haniel, we need it badly.”
We sat under the cover of the bar-b-que area as the rain poured around us watching the dull, wet day surround us. I gave her a worried look, “How can I help you? I’m not an Archangel.”
“I know that. But you know where to find one.”
Frowning, I sat back, offended she dared ask me to search for... “No! He nearly killed me the last time we battled. And besides, people were injured and he laughed at them – at their fragility – while I healed some of them.”
“You can track him. We need him to make new Angels while Father isn’t there.” I stood and walked to the edge of the shelter, watching the rain, not wanting anything to do with what she was proposing, “Please, there’s not that many of us left; not after the Demonic War.”
“Have you tried finding Father?”
“Yes. He’s not in Heaven or on Earth.”
“You haven’t tried hard enough. Try somewhere else because I’m not helping you. All of the other Archangels are dead, and I’m not approaching Lucifer or Michael; besides, they hate each other.”
“I told you, this wouldn’t be easy.”
I turned, “And I told you I wouldn’t be able to do anything about Heaven.”
She stood, walked around the table and sighed, “Look, I took a great risk coming and talking to you, mainly because you’re still looked down upon.” I rolled my eyes, “But! You know there’s areas of Earth Lucifer would hide.”
I was losing patience with her, “Let me give it to you straight: Lucifer doesn’t care! He doesn’t have the patience of Father, never did and never will. You don’t understand it that he will destroy everything if he’s let loose in Heaven...”
“But we need new Angels to...”
“To the detriment of Earth, I don’t think so.”
I heard her sigh again and sit down on the seat behind me as I turned I my back on her and stared at the lessening rain around us, “Haniel, you have seen so much here on Earth. But I think you’ve been around them too much – for too long – and it’s been not good for you.”
“That’s not it.” I regarded her and her complete misunderstanding of what was going on, “Earth is under attack by the very inhabitants Father placed here to look after her. Lucifer isn’t where he’s supposed to be and he thinks he can go around turning Father’s children against each other – and so he’s having fun. And where’s Father in all of this?”
She shrugged, “We don’t know.”
“Well, I think you better find out. It’s time he came home and cleaned up his mess.”
“But you know Earth better than we do.”
I sighed, “I’m not asking you to clean up Earth, I’m asking you to find Father...”
“And he’ll make us do it. But he won’t get his hands dirty anymore.” She whispered.
I was at a loss at what to do next.
The rain had stopped and left behind that sweet after-rain scent a lot of Humans love; which was something I was beginning to appreciate as well. I didn’t know what to say to her, an Angel who was normally no one to stay an Earth-Walker.
“Haniel, we...”
“I know.... need my help.” Rubbing my forehead with the tips of my fingers of my right hand, I felt the numbing headache Humans felt from stress lessen. I looked up at her, “Okay, what do you need me to do? And no, I’m not looking for Lucifer.”
“Well, we need an Angel which can make new Angels.”
I sat next to her as the rain started up again.
We were there for a moment before I looked at her, “A Grigori. They taught the Humans first of their duties.”
“I’m not sure if they’re still walking the Earth, but it’s worth a try.” She shrugged as she took flight, vanishing in a flurry of wings and wind.
I’m left there wondering if my idea was worth the ground work. Would a Grigori cooperate with us after all this time? Are there any left walking the Earth?

Months pass by and I find myself in the Time-Keeper’s Court. I haven’t been here in a long time. There’s a lot of people waiting to be seen through to the waiting Osiris; and then there’s the hall of the massive church within. I look up at the crystalline windows above me and find it was raining. It always looks different here than it does on Earth – it’s more beautiful I found.
“Haniel, any news?” she asked me from the door of the church.
My thoughts are broken as I walked through the door and into the near-silence of the church, and I lower my voice, “I’m afraid not. Either they know I’m looking for them, or they’ve disappeared.”
“They are – were – one of Father’s first creations. They can’t vanish from Earth.” She was close to tears.
“Or they’ve been corrupted and are working through different ways.” I said, “I often get myself in trouble if I try ask too many questions on Earth.”
Her tears dried up quickly, as she snapped me a glare, “Well, I encourage you ask those questions.”
I leaned down close to her, “And get myself arrested, shot or killed? Then what will you do? Who will you send to get killed next?”
Slowly she looked up at me, “I’m sorry Haniel. It’s not a good time here. We really need Angels.”
I stood and turned from her, “I’m doing my best.” I left her in the church, walked through the Time-Keeper’s Quarters and out the door where I was greeted by a Soul-Keeper. These people normally kept themselves closer to The Great Library, “Can I help you?”
“Haniel? I have the right Angel?” he asked, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses, “I’m Briggs. I’m a...”
“Soul-Keeper. I know, I read you straight away.” I walked towards the gates of Heaven, but he stopped me, “What do you need?”
“I need you to see something at The Great Library. That Angel you were speaking to... she’s not telling the whole story.”

The Great Library was one of Father’s greatest achievements. Everything he ever wrote was stored here from the beginning of time to every single story every written by Humans and other creations he made before them. It’s a fascinating place to venture through. Soul-Keepers keep an account of Angel’s souls in Heaven for when they’re needed in vessels.
“Now, we keep account of who is here and who isn’t. I also keep a running number of who is in our prison – there’s not many there; only two, but they can be a handful.” He chuckled as he pulled out a large, aged book, “Here is the Book of Angels from the time Father created us.” He opened it to the very page of today.
“What am I looking at?”
“A ledger of how many Angels we actually have in Heaven, in the Guff and on Earth.” Briggs said, “And really, we only have about ten Angels on Earth, the rest are here. See...” he pointed out the numbers to me, and Heaven had plenty of Angels. Then the lights dimmed and flickered then restored again, “I’m not sure why it is that we are having problems when we have so many Angels here to run the place.”
“I’ll find Father. He has to know about this problem here at home.” I said.

Ironically, I found Father on Earth. He was sipping Mai Tai’s in Vanuatu’s best resort. Security followed me across the foyer of the hotel and through to the pool where I could feel his power coming. And there he was sitting there reading a book and enjoying the tropical heat.
A hand landed heavily on my shoulder. I turned, “Let go of me.”
“You know, Serg, I would if I was you.” Father said, “Haniel here isn’t in the mood to be stuffed around.”
I walked up to him, as he sipped the drink, “Would you like one, it’s a Mai Tai. It’s delicious; and the best thing is that you and I can’t get drunk on them.”
I sat on the sun bed next to his, “Sheppard, please. All of Heaven is searching for you, and they claim it’s because they need more Angels.”
“Yes. I know.” He smiled, “I believe Briggs brought you up to speed?”
“Then why am I being given the run around?
He looked at me, “I need Lucifer.”
“He hates me. He tried to kill me.”
“I’m on holidays. He can run the place.”
“Why is the place low on power?”
Father snapped a stunned look at me as he almost dropped his drink, “What?”
“Yes, Heaven can’t wait for you to take a holiday in every tropical island around Earth. So, are you in or out about Heaven?” I stood, “And as for Lucifer, if you want him, you go and find him, I’m not going to die because you can’t control his temper tantrums.”
“Fair enough. If you’re going to be this way, you stay here on Earth.” He stood and smiled, “You don’t deserve to be in Heaven, Haniel. You will become an Earth-Walker on a very permanent basis.” He turned away as the waiter brought over Sheppard’s drink.
“Fine, I don’t like the politics up there anyway.” I said.
He smiled at me, “You don’t get it. You still have to find Lucifer – but this time, you have to kill him to get your passage back into Heaven. So, for you, Heaven can wait.”

Sunday, 27 January 2019

End of Days

This one was inspired by the horrible heatwave we've been experiencing here in Australia. 


The skies are shotgun blue, without a cloud in sight, and the heat is pressing and exhausting. No birds have sung in the past few weeks and I haven’t heard any children run around the place lately either.

This is strange. But seeing how hot it’s been, I’m not surprised.

People would have been worshipping at the temple of the shopping complex, to get away from the heat and into the cool air-conditioning. And with school starting soon, it’ll be something to look forward to. However with the heat still pressing down on this country, it’s got me thinking: is it really Summer? Or is it something else?

I mean, America is in the grips of one of the worst Winters they’ve experienced in years. Coyotes are roaming into the cities searching, hunting for food; and that’s because there’s none walking around.
And yet, there’s snakes and Dingoes doing the same thing here in Australia because there’s nothing to eat for them here.

This morning, I walked out to the papershop and found that at around 7am, the normally busy main road outside my place was empty and quiet. Now, I’m not a God-fearing person, nor will I ever be one. But, I didn’t hear any birds singing either – just the cicadas ever-lasting long note of ‘damn it’s hot! Damn it’s hot!’ And adding that to my tinnitus is enough to send normal people off the edge – but then, I’m not normal. I’m used to that mind-boggling ringing in my ears. It’s difficult to ignore it, but it’s been there for years, constantly getting louder over time.
As I walked down the road in the blinding sunlight, my footsteps echoing around the street, I felt as though I was in ‘The Omega Man’... yep, I felt as though I was the last person on the planet wandering around. Then, I spotted a few people, braving the heat to get the paper and some milk from across the road. Okay, I now felt as though I was in ‘The Day of the Triffids’, where the world was invaded by plants which ate humans.

Creepy... but a great book and movie.

It’s been hours since I ate breakfast and decided to take off to photograph some landscape stuff to paint. But driving around, I couldn’t find a place populated enough by people to paint. I tried the local shopping centres, then drove further afield, taking the toll way and found there was nobody on the roads – not even trucks.

I pulled off the road, finding my way to a church, where I thought I’d find people of faith hiding away there, to pray, in search of guidance to their God. But that car park was empty.

Exactly what was going on? I tried the doors and found them locked... on a Sunday? This wasn’t right. I had a feeling there was somebody behind me, and spun! There wasn’t anyone. I could see my camper van in the lot and that was it.
“What the hell is going on?” I muttered taking a few deep breaths, leaning against the cool glass doors of the church. Then, I realised, to find my answer, I had to get inside. I picked dislodged a rock from the garden and threw it through the large glass panel next to the main doors. It shattered – but no alarm went off as I expected. As the glass fell to the floor, I carefully stepped through and looked around.
The air-con was on.
Music was coming from the speakers in the ceiling – but it was just the radio.
I went up to the doors of the church itself and tried them. Locked! I went back outside and walked around the side of the building to look in and found the main building was empty.
“Who are you looking for?” a voice asked to my left.
I turned to find the Pastor standing there, “Where are the people?”
He frowned, pulling at his collar, his eyes wandering to glaring hot day, “It’s hot isn’t it?”
Nodding, I agreed with him, “But where are the people?”
Sighing, he sat in the pew put outside for people to rest in, “I don’t know. I heard you break in before, and I couldn’t get into the church either; not even with my key.” Tears brimmed his eyes as he looked to the ground, “I do believe it’s the End of Times.”
“Hey, Pastor, we would have had warnings.”
“We did!” he snapped a look at me, “Wars, disease, famine, extinction... that joke of a President was another... they were all warnings. And what did we do? We all sat on our phones, hypnotised by them.”
I didn’t know what do to, “Have you been out there today?” I looked out to the steaming heat of the day.
“No. I came here in the hopes people would come here.”
I shook my head, “Don’t. There’s nobody around. The streets are empty, the highways... the internet isn’t .... um... the radio is static. I thought it was a screw up until it was like that for an hour.”
He scrubbed his tears away with the flat of his hands, “So, now what?”
Looking at him, stunned, I shrugged, “Well, I came here to ask you that. You’re one of ... or are you? Seeing it’s the End of Days, what do we do now?”
“For what redemption – a bit late.”
He spotted my camper van out in the lot, “Do you think there’s others?”
“If there are, they’re hiding.” Or dead I thought but I didn’t want to scare him more than he already was, “I don’t know.”
He stood, “Well, I’m going to get into the church the same way you did... and I’ll stand by my post. It’s what I was taught to do.”
“Need help?”
“No. God will show me the way. Where are you going?”
“On my road trip, I guess; better late than never.” I walked out to the lot, unlocked my camper van and got into the driver’s side. I knew what the pastor was going to do, but I didn’t want to be there when he...
As I pulled out of the driveway and onto the street, I heard a gunshot echo from the church; causing me to slam on the brakes and my stomach to lurch. I’ll be not only going on the road trip to paint, but to also search out others.
I did have a question though: was a left here as a bad guy or a good guy? I guess I’ll never know.

Monday, 14 January 2019

My Curse

You would think life would be fair – but it’s not. And it’s strange how some things are covered so well on sci-fi and horror television shows and yet, people think most of that stuff is all make-believe.

Well, most of it is.

My curse in this life is that I can see what most other Humans can’t. I can see Angels, Demons and Reapers – but I mainly see the latter. Angels aren’t that common, and they’re out to protect the person they’re tethered to more than to show themselves in public. And besides, when a Human knows they’ve got an Angel tethered to them, they’re not going to tell everyone about it because ... well, would you?
Demons are everywhere. I spotted one at a party once years ago, and he spotted me. It was the most horrifying thing I had ever come across. I found my friends and got them the outa there before anything happened to them. But I remember what they said to me: ‘You’re nuts Dayna. He was fine!’
Glancing up at the rear vision mirror, while sitting at the set of lights, I spotted him in the car behind us, his red eyes glowing through the rear window of my car ‘He’s anything but fine. Did either of you talk to him? Kiss him, make fun of him?’
Belle sat in the seat next to me, hesitating, ‘Well, he said he could do anything for me. He promised.’ She went quiet.
‘Well, he said we had to kiss, not shake hands.’ She blushed, ‘He’s a hell of a kisser.’
I remember her funeral well, because it was only three weeks later she died. The police still have no idea how she came to be in an abandoned building in San Fran on the other side of the country on her own; and yet she had only been with me the night before for dinner and a movie. From what I know, I’m still a suspect two years later.

Reapers are a different deal.
I see them all the time. They’re normally around car accidents, hospitals, funerals ... basically anywhere where there’s been a death and they have to collect a soul. I even see them when the news is on and they show a volcano blowing its top – and I see them all standing around the townships it’s going to destroy. This is why I don’t watch the news. They’re just too creepy.
And yep, I saw a couple of them at Belle’s funeral, when I should have only seen one. That caused me to wonder why there were more than one to collect her; but I didn’t want to ask too many questions about it all – after all the police were looking at me as a suspect.

And you know it’s strange, I’ve never had a Reaper looking at me or in my direction. They’re normally looking at the person who is going to die, or they’re standing outside the place where a death is going to occur.
But the other day, I stepped outside a movie theatre and saw a crowd of them looking up at the building. There had to be about thirty of them standing, staring. I turned and looked up, shading my eyes against the sun just in time to watch the windows on the top floor of the Cineplex explode and smoke billow out from it!
“Oh my God!” I muttered, unable to pull out my phone, knowing that whatever I did next was useless. If I pulled out my phone, the emergency crews wouldn’t make it in time... but if I didn’t? I turned to the security guard nearest to me, “We need to evacuate the whole centre now!”
“Why, it could be just the Cineplex...” he muttered.
I looked over near the doors of the main shopping complex, and spotted more Reapers standing by the door and inside the place, watching, “No! The whole place will go up if you don’t evacuate now!”

The alarms howled and rang, as people spilled out on the streets surrounding the massive centre. I stood across the road with the people watching and waiting to be told what to do next, when a hand landed on my shoulder.
I turned to find a Reaper was there, “Why didn’t you leave it well enough alone? Their time was up.” I turned away, feeling a chill where his hand had been. When I turned back, he was gone. As I looked around at the people standing around me, I realised I had screwed with how these people’s lives were going to turn out. At some point in the near future, each of them were going to die. As I watched on, Reapers showed up next to each survivor I had gotten evacuated from the centre.
Within the next month, each of these people died. Their time was up at the Cineplex and I stopped it – when I shouldn’t have.

I needed to be on my own for a while, so I sought out my local church, where I saw they were preparing for a funeral service. I didn’t want to bother them, so I sat in the very back near the door. People filed in. People I knew... but they didn’t come to see me as I stood and approached them.
“Dayna.” A voice at my shoulder said, and I turned to see a man in a suit, “I knew you’d make it.”
“Make it?” I asked, “What are you talking about?”
“You still don’t know? You’re dead. You died at the Cineplex. When you looked up as the place exploded a wall fell on you.” An expression of worry crossed his face, “Oh, you don’t remember, you died so fast.”
“And I see Reapers all the time.”
He nodded, “Yes. That man who patted you on the shoulder, he was your Reaper. And you should have left things alone – Natural Order and all of that.”
“Where am I?”
He looked around as all the people sat down in the lovely church I used to attend, “You are at your funeral.”