Friday, March 25, 2016

Even God Has Regrets; or The Honest Mistake

Better than anyone, Claire knows that life is full of small yet important moments. These are instances in a person's life that alter their path, creating branches and shifting between present and future. In the face of such moments, that individual splits into two personas: who they were before and who they become after.

When Claire was six, she fell through the ice on Clary Pond and died for exactly forty-seven seconds. Before it happened, she was a precocious child with a head full of clever ideas and a love of My Little Pony. She was much the same after it happened, save for one thing: she awoke a future Prophet of God.

Now, what kind of a god makes a six-year-old girl into a prophet, you ask? A desperate one.

Ellie had seen the writing on the wall and suspected Lucifer was coming for Her. The only clue the Fates would give Her was a name and an idea: Claire Elizabeth Rogers, Prophet.

However...the Crone's handwriting had only gotten worse with age and what looked like a "g" was actually a "p" so is it really Her fault, then, that She anointed the wrong one?


"It's not like I meant to ruin your life, Claire!"

This isn't a valid argument. Ellies knows that, of course, but it's the best She can do on short notice. If the expression on Claire's face is any indication, though, it's not good enough.

"I was six! I thought I was getting a pony!" Claire throws a plate across the kitchen and Ellie steps aside, pottery shattering as it connects with the dark paneled wall.

"I cannot believe you just threw a plate at ME!" She ducks as a coffee mug follows. "It was an honest mistake, Claire!"

"An honest mistake?" Claire asks, breathless with rage. In that moment, with her red hair wild and her dark eyes manic, Ellie sees Claire's mother in her -- raging Celtic angel of vengeance and all.

"Yes, dammit. The Fates were very vague. All I had was a name. I didn't know exactly who I was looking for!"

"An honest mistake."

Ellie barrels on, unperturbed. "You fell through the ice and your mother begged Me to help. It happened very quickly. I was looking for your name and then there you were. I didn't realize -- not until much later -- that the last name was wrong. The Crone's handwriting..."

"I know," Claire says, the chill in her voice dissipating. "It's worse than the Catholic nuns'."

She nods. "Exactly."

"And it was an honest mistake."

"Of course. Yes."

"And You're very sorry for it."

"YES! You know I am."

"And You regret it."

Ellie pauses, then. She's being led down a treacherous path; She's seen Claire interrogate small children in a similar fashion, all calm waters and sympathy. She knows it's a front.

"And You regret it," Claire says again, the edge back in her voice.


Claire explodes like a box of angry bees. "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!"

Hope, Claire's elderly Grim, disappears and God wishes She could, too. But then, as She's looking for a place to hide, She remembers something vitally important.

She's GOD.

And She's done explaining Herself to a mortal employee.

"ENOUGH!" She bellows, waving Her arms across the kitchen. Silence descends over the house; the broken dishes fix themselves and return to their original positions on the counter. Claire watches with wide eyes, perhaps finally aware of just how ridiculous she's being, of close she's flown to the sun.

"You are a trial, Claire. You are a headache wrapped in shiny packaging and while I absolutely adore you, I do not love you enough to allow your temper tantrum to continue."

She snaps Her fingers and a three ring binder lands on the island between them with a loud resonating thud and the gentlest tinkling of a bell.

"This," She says, pointing to the binder, "is your Prophetic Services Contractual Agreement. You were six when you first signed it and I can see now just how unfair that was. Therefore, I'm giving you a second chance to review its contents." She snaps Her fingers again and a second binder appears, along with a handful of red pens and a bottle of Merlot. "Now, you and I are going to go through this contract -- line by line -- and revise it. Together."

Claire clears her throat, squares her shoulders. "Why do this?" she asks, the earlier violence gone from her voice, though the frown remains. "It's been almost thirty years."

Ellie smiles, bright as the sun, and a confused rooster down the street begins to crow. Hope reappears from wherever it was she disappeared to earlier and plants herself underneath the stool where God sits.

"Because I'm a good business woman, Claire, and I absolutely hate to see My employees unhappy."

"Except for Lucifer."

The smile grows mischievous and Claire, against her own will, finds herself joining in on it. No matter how disgruntled they may become with each other, Claire knew they'd always find common ground in making the Devil's existence a quaint piece of Hell (Hades & Purgatory).

"Except for Lucy."

Claire nods. "I'll get some glasses," she says.

"And the opener," Ellie adds. "I may be God, but I still have to open my wine bottles one cork at a time."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

God ignores the sandy-haired angel as he breezes through Her office door with barely a knock to announce his jaunty presence. Instead of paying him any mind, She turns the page of the newspaper in Her hands and continues reading.

"You're ignoring me," Michael says as he sits in the visitor chair across the desk from Her.

"Well," She says, keeping Her eyes glued to the page, "you didn't knock. I see no reason to pay attention to you if you can't even be bothered to knock."

He sighs. "Joan said to go right in..."

"Joan isn't the one sitting at this desk, enjoying Her morning bit of quiet and the newspaper." She looks over the rim of Her unnecessary-but-quite-attractive reading glasses at the archangel. To Her chagrin, he appears nonplussed. "Goddammit, what?"

"I need an answer to a hypothetical question."

She removes the reading glasses so She can actually look at him without feeling lightheaded.(1) "Okay, I'll play along for the moment. What's the question?"

He leans forward so his strong...shapely...handsome forearms rest on the desktop. She forces Herself not to stare at them for more than a second, which is already too long. "What if," he starts, "hypothetically, of course, someone ran against You in the election this term?"

She snorts in a very unGodlike way. "Impossible."

"It's hypothetical, Ellie. Suspend belief for half a second, okay?"

She frowns, rolls Her gorgeous eyes. "Well, it would result in a full campaign on My part, which I've never done since I've always run unopposed."

"But if You had to do it, could You?" he asks, a little too serious for Her liking.

"Run a campaign?" He nods. "I suppose..."

"Good." He pulls a newsletter with the HH&P corporate logo on it from his tunic pocket and hands it to Her.


She looks up at Michael, suddenly sick to Her stomach.(2) "But he can't..." She mutters. "The ban I placed on him..."

"Ran out two days ago. I sent you three messages - just yesterday, mind You - to remind You to re-up."

She stares at the headline. "He won't win...he can't."

"We have to make sure, Ellie. Everyone up here already has belief problems brewing downstairs. With the Devil in charge..."

"...Earth would literally go to Hell..."(3)

"Hades and Purgatory, LLC."

She frowns, on the verge of tears. "Fuck."

"Zeus and Jupiter have their hats in Your ring. The Summerlanders and Otherworlders, too."

"What about the 4-H?"

He looks down at the desk. "He's promised them raises and more days on Earth."

She stands, knocking Her chair over with a loud bang that resounds through the office. "He promised them a fucking apocalypse?!" She hollers.

"Three a year."

"Three?!" She slams Her fists down on the desktop, splintering the wood in different directions. "That rat fucking bastard."

"Don't you mean 'that fucking rat bastard'?" he asks.


"Oh." He scrunches his face up in disgust. "Oh."


1. Michael wishes She'd leave them on...then mentally slaps himself for thinking such things about his Boss...THE Boss.

2. She didn't realize immortal beings could get sick to their stomachs...which makes Her hate Lucy even more than She already does.

3. The benefits of partnership: Whatever Lucifer collects, Hades gets part of and vice versa. Dante, however, gets nothing - Purgatory is a silent partner, after all.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Devil, The Black Dog, & The Triple Goddess Herself

At just past seven, PGC time, the door to Michael's office bangs open, bounces off the wall, and slams shut in the Devil's face. A corner of the newspaper in Michael's hands rolls down and he raises an eyebrow as he stares at the door. Two...three...four...five seconds pass before the door opens again - gently this time - and Lucifer casually steps inside.

"You need to work on your entrances," Michael says, shaking out the newspaper.

"I didn't realize you'd installed looser hinges," Lucifer says, nonchalant as though what just happened didn't, in fact, happen. "So..."

"Did you need something or are you just going around the upstairs offices, banging open doors for kicks?"

Lucifer straightens his tie, unbuttons his blazer, and sits down in the visitor chair with all the flair of an Italian don. "That was a dirty, damn trick you played," he says.

Michael folds up the newspaper, sets it on the desk before leveling a professorial stare at Lucifer. "Come again?" he asks.

"The dog," Lucifer says. Michael says nothing. "The giant beast you sent to Claire's house to keep tabs on her?" Michael continues to stare at him and the Devil visibly squirms in his seat. "The damn thing hates me almost as much as she does, which isn't terribly fair considering she's known me her whole life and the dog's only just met me..."

"Which 'she'?" Michael asks.

He frowns at the archangel. "Claire, Mike. Who else would I be talking about?"

"You're about as charming as a dead reptile, Lucy." Michael chuckles as steam escapes the Devil's ears. "Now, back to your original statement - I have absolutely no clue what you're talking about. Claire's got a dog?"

"Not just a dog, Mike. She's got a grim!"(1)

The hamster wheel in Michael's head spins and he imagines he knows where that very big, very protective dog may have come from. He stands, motions Lucifer out the door.

"She named it after my worst fear," the Devil whines as he follows him out of the office.

This causes Mike to laugh loudly. "She named her Hope?" Lucifer nods, pouting. Mike laughs even louder. "That sounds like something I'd do...I've taught her well!"


He wanders the eastern wing until he finds the door he's looking for: SUMMERLAND & OTHERWORLD - It is what you make of it. He knocks twice, then stands back, memories of his last visit to this particular department of the Pearly Gates Corporation.(2)

The Triple Goddess herself opens the door - in Mother form at the moment - and beams a smile brighter than the sun and the moon at him. "Michael! It's been ages!"

"Hello, Diana!"

"Got time for a cuppa?" she asks, standing aside and welcoming him into the offices. He nods, steps inside. He's immediately reminded of the greenhouse attached to Harry and Kate Rogers' house. Terrariums, herbs, wooden slats, and the smell of freshly turned earth. "What brings you to our little nook of the afterlife?" she asks, busying herself with making tea.

"The Devil just informed me that Claire's got herself a grim," he says and Diana looks over her shoulder at him. "A female grim she's gone and named Hope." The grin on the Goddess' face is mischievous and warm. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you, Di?"

She brings a cup of steaming chamomile to him and, as she typically does, sits on his knee. Pagan goddesses aren't often known for their boundaries. He's honestly surprised she's even wearing clothes, considering how close it is to the summer solstice.(3)

She kisses his forehead. "There are strange times ahead, feathers," she says. "Claire will need all the help she can get."

"A grim, though?"

She shrugs. "She was an older lady, in need of a good home and a little bit of evil to ward off. I figured of all the prophets at home, Claire was most likely to take her in - no questions asked."

"Well, she did just that...and the Devil's terrified of her."

"Of course he is," she says, continuing to grin. "There isn't anything the Devil fears more than a great, big ball of Hope running amok."

(1) Technically, Claire received a Gurt, a Scottish protection dog that wanders the moors and keeps children and travelers safe...but the Devil's a drama queen on his best day, so it makes sense he'd go around hollering "grim" at the top of his magenta lungs.

(2) When the doorman has horns, it's often best to stand as far away from the door as possible. He had to lie about where the black eye had come from for a week, simply because he didn't want to listen to Meta's terrible jokes about him playing hokey pokey with the Goat God.

(3) The first time he met Diana was during Beltane...shortly before she was due to inhabit a maiden...and get chased naked through a corn field. She was decidedly in character at the time. He didn't know where to look without possibly offending her...and Ellie, who'd come along for the mead. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Owl Slap Some Sense into You...

Jack Hardcourt, record owner extraordinaire, can count the number of sane women he's dated on one hand; even if he lost a finger or two, he could still do it. Perhaps that penchant for crazy is what keeps him from throwing Claire Rogers out of his office. could be the smooth legs, round hips, and devilish way the sundress she's wearing clings in all the right places. He is, after all, a dude.

"Run that by me again," he says.

"Rigged election. Devil may win. Apocalypse coming. Need your help."

He nods. "Right, that's what I thought you said." He takes her hand, places it against his forehead. "Am I feverish?" he asks.

She frowns at him - that librarian frown she uses when he's being particularly dense and her patience is wearing thin - but she doesn't move her hand. "In this one instance, Jack, God isn't a hallucination." She slides her hand down the side of his face, rests it against his cheek and runs her thumb along the ridge just below his eye. He feels like he's maybe - just maybe - hit the lottery. "Sorry," she says.

"For what?" he asks, bordering on happy for the first time in at least ten years.

She slaps him. Full on slaps him, hard enough his fillings rattle, and he nearly falls over from shock. When he looks at her, he sees colors and wonders if she knocked something lose in his already pretty frazzled brain; all around her, the air shimmers with colors.

"What the fuck..."

She smiles. "Do you see the colors?" she asks and he nods, transfixed. "Good. That means it worked!"

This focuses him. "What worked?" He moves his jaw, massages the spot where she hit him. It tingles, like pins and needles. "What did you hit me with?"

She shows him her hand; wrapped around her middle finger is a large, silver and dark wood ring he's never seen before. Carved into the dark wood is an owl; it raises an eyebrow as he stares at it and he leans back, immediately freaked.

She grins. "I literally just slapped some sense into you." She looks down at the owl, which has gone back to being still. "Artemis gave it to me for occasions just like this."

He's saved from comment as the bay doors blow open behind them and Claire's Uncle Mike arrives...wearing white linen pants, a white linen tunic, and huge fucking wings. Jack falls over the edge of the desk.

"Jesus Christ, what's with the wings!?"

Michael chuckles, shakes his head. "Don't let the sandals fool you, Jack," he says. "JC isn't nearly this white - or good looking."

Jack's poor mortal brain gives up on him; he passes out, his head hitting the concrete with a thud. Mike grins at Claire, who's glaring at the archangel.

"That sounded hollow to me," he says, laughing.

Claire slaps his wings. "Shut up, buzzard, and help me get him to the couch."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mimosas, Library Books, and the Realization that God Listens...ALL THE TIME

Claire Rogers loves brunch. She loves being presented with a menu that allows her to order scrambled eggs and hash browns with her cheeseburger and mimosa. God loves brunch, too, but only because of the bottomless mimosas. She rarely drinks anymore, so when the opportunity arises to share a pitcher of champagne and orange juice, She jumps at it. (1)

"I think Lucy's up to something," She says from behind oversized sunglasses. Claire can't tell what She's looking at, but she's pretty sure it isn't her.

"I'm not sure that's an unreasonable suspicion," Claire says. "He is the Devil, after all..."

God frowns...and car alarms go off all across town. "Perhaps I should have clarified - something more devious than his usual bit of mischief."

"Like what?"

She shrugs. A gaggle of college boys pass their table at the sidewalk cafe and three of them stumble over each other as they ogle God's ample bosom, beautifully on display in Her gold and ivory sundress. God lowers Her sunglasses and glares at them with an expression meant to literally put the fear of Her into them.

Claire watches the familiar display with bored eyes, glances down at her own ample bosom on beautiful display. She's more than used to being ignored while in God's company; if anything, she's come to find the invisibility comforting.

"What's Lucy done this time?" she asks, sipping her coffee.

"He borrowed a library book with that temporary card you gave him," She says, replacing Her sunglasses.

Claire eyes her Holy Boss. "Well, then, we should string him up by his horns. How dare he borrow a book...from a library...that he belongs to..."

God once again lowers the sunglasses, appraises Her favorite prophet with cool green and humorless eyes. "Are you quite finished?" She asks.

"Just one more."

"If you must."

"Did he forget to return said book, the rule-breaking, magenta-colored fancy boy that he is?"

That gets God to smile. "I'm being ridiculous," She says with a laugh.

Claire grins, shakes her head. "You're being cautious; there's a difference."

"Maybe he was just looking for something new to read..."

Claire snorts. "Hell no," she says. "The sonovabitch is definitely up to something."

God's expression shows open surprise. "But you just said..."

"I know what I just said. Since when do You listen to a damn thing I say?"

God smiles warmly and the Indian summer sunshine brightens. "I always listen to you, Claire. Even when you think I'm not listening, I still hear you."

Claire looks at Her, catching the subtext and not feeling very comfortable with it. "Does that include..." (2)

"Mm-hmm," She says, taking a long sip of Her mimosa.

"So I probably shouldn't..."

"Best not. Best to keep My name out of it whenever possible." She winks with overdramatic flair, for salacious emphasis. "He seemed like a nice fellow, though, so you're certainly welcome for it."

Claire's cheeks flush red with embarrassment. "Oh sweet Jesus..." she mutters.

"Now, My brother, he's quite oblivious, so feel free to use his name whenever it suits you." God picks up the now-empty pitcher and waves it at the waiter. She turns a vibrant and mischievous smile on Claire. "More mimosas!"

(1) Well, at least She doesn't drink as much anymore. Not since that time...with the mead...and the Devil...She doesn't like to talk about it, though. Poor decisions will get You a lifetime of hangovers and the Earth.

(2) Of course it does. She's everywhere most of the time, which means She hears Her name when you use it. No matter WHERE you use it. Consider that the next time you start yelling Her name at the top of your lungs... 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Introduction of Hope to the Devil, Lucifer

It's half past six in the evening when a thumping sound on her front porch brings Claire outside and face to face with a large creature. She stares at it, unsure of how to proceed. Sleek black fur, bright blue eyes, and a wagging tail - the source of the thumping sound; the dog is absolutely beautiful, no doubt about it, but Claire's not sure what it's doing on her porch right now. She looks at it and it looks back with those very clever blue eyes, sitting patiently while Claire assess the situation.

A lifetime of oddness makes Claire instantly suspicious.

"And to whom do you belong?" she asks, crouching down to see if the dog has a collar. It doesn't appear to. When she looks it in the eye, its tail wags harder, a rhythmic swish and thump against the old wood of the porch floor. "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" she asks it.

The dog leans forward and noses her hand, flips it over so her palm faces up. The dog kisses it and the tails swishes and thumps even harder. Claire's clinical, rational, suspicious - highly suspicious - brain melts; she scratches its ears.

"She suits you," a familiar voice says from the yard and Claire stands, startled. The dog turns to look at the intruder and a slight mohawk of fur rises on its - correction, on her back.

"A gift from you, I presume?" Claire asks the Devil. A low growl starts in the dog's chest. Claire looks down at her, surprised. She settles her hand on the black head beside her. "Not at all from you."

Lucifer shakes his head. "Not, indeed. I'd wager a guess she's another one of Michael's housewarming gifts."

He steps forward, cautiously, and the dog's growl intensifies. Claire feels like she's vibrating from the sound of it. Lucifer smiles. "A blessed well AND a guard dog. He must truly care about you, Claire."

She eyes him, unafraid but uneasy. "Okay, Lucy - how about you stop acting like a Bond villain and either tell me what you need or get the Hell out of here."

He frowns at her, taken aback. "Are you always so damn difficult?"

"With you, yes."

"Why is that?"

"Because you're Satan and I don't really like you all that much." She smiles sweetly at him.

His frown deepens. "Well that's not terribly nice." He takes another step towards the porch, forgetting momentarily about the guard dog. Her growl echoes around them and he freezes. "It would appear she doesn't like me all that much, either."

Claire smiles down at the dog, who looks up at her with adoration and wags her tail. "She really does suit me, then, doesn't she?" She looks at the Devil. "You were going away, I believe."

He sighs, pulls a red library card - the one she'd given him as a temporary replacement for his own lost card a few months earlier - from his coat pocket and sets it on the bottom step, visibly flinching when the dog lowers her head to glare at him while he moves. Claire bites down a laugh - the Antichrist, reduced to a flinching mess before a black lab.

"I'm just returning that, as promised."

Claire nods. "How very responsible of you."

They watch as the card evaporates in a puff of grey smoke. The dog eyes it herself, curious, her head cocked to the side as she watches the smoke shift and rise.

"Give Hades my regards, please," Claire says.

"Of course," Lucifer responds, all business and professional. "And please tell Michael I said hello the next time you see him. Pass along my compliments on his choice of protection." He stares at the dog, who stares back with those crystal blue eyes. "Have you thought of a name?"

"What scares you the most, Lucy?" she asks.

He pauses to think about it. Eventually, he gives her an answer: "Hope...and small children."*

Claire grins, looks down at the dog. She wags her tail happily. "Well then, Hope it is."

*It's always wise to be scared of small children...even if you're the Devil.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

So THAT'S where the Kraken came from...

God's had a bad day when:
  1. She screws with the Baptist office managers by telling them Christmas will be celebrated in July from this point forward.

  2. Not even a bear hug from Artemis cheers Her up.

  3. She makes an office-wide decree that only She's allowed to wear gold on Tuesdays, which means the Romans have to rethink their entire wardrobes.

  4. She directs all the new hires to St. Nikolaus, telling them he's actually God.

  5. She throws a temper tantrum when She runs out of wine and Jesus refuses to help out.
"Seems a little like overkill to me..."

"No one asked your opinion, Mike."

"Just sayin', Ellie...the kraken's a bit much for this modern day crowd."