This statement, coming from God, cannot bode well. In fact, Metatron has seen his fair share of bad ideas stem from God declaring She's bored, including the time She failed to separate the Chinese Goddess Hu-Tu (fertility) from the God I-Ti (wine) and the entire Roman wing ended up in a crazed orgy for a week.*
"You have a stack of intake forms to sign," Meta says, frowning at Her over the rims of thick black glasses that they both know he doesn't need. "Those poor people are sitting in limbo right now because You haven't signed off on their intake forms."
She sighs and waves Her hand. "What's a few more days stuck in limbo?"
"Have You ever been to limbo?" he asks and She shakes Her head, curls bouncing. "It's a pea green waiting room with magazines dating back to the Big Bang and coffee so thick it has to be cut with a knife. Sign the forms."
She frowns and picks up the stack of forms, begins to scrawl Her signature across the bottom of each one. She's made it through half the stack when the door to Her office bangs open and the Archangel Raphael appears. He's wearing athletic shorts and a t-shirt that says I'VE GOT WINGS, BITCHES and he's carrying a basketball under one arm. He's out of breath, so much so that it takes him a moment or two before he can explain why he's just burst into God's office, unannounced.
"Thanks for knocking, Raph," God drawls and Raphael bends over, gasping for air, holding a hand up in the air as a signal to give him a moment.
"That's six hundred flights of stairs," Metatron says quietly.
"He has wings, Meta."
"It's still six hundred flights of stairs, Ellie."
"Maybe we should install an elevator," She says, tapping Her finger against Her chin. Meta doesn't mention that he's told Her this a hundred times. She likes to think everything is Her idea. "Talk to Loki about it."**
Raphael straightens and he seems to be breathing a little more normally. He points over his shoulder, to the open office door. "I'm sorry I didn't knock," he says, "but it's an emergency."
"What's wrong?" God asks, suddenly alarmed.
"The dragons in the Eastern Religion complex got loose."
This doesn't strike Her as an emergency demanding a six hundred flight workout. "So?" She asks.
"So they ate the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse's horses." His shoulders slump slightly. "All of them, including the four back-ups. They even ate Conquest's horse." He rests his hands on his hips. "Of course he's super pissed because he's just an alternate."
God looks at Metatron and he gives Her a blank expression.
"Still bored?" he asks dryly.
* * *
Oddly enough, it's Death who seems to be the most broken up about losing his two horses. In fact, he appears to be crying very slightly. It's off-putting and more than a little disturbing.
"Not to downplay the loss or anything, but what the hell are we supposed to ride now?" Conquest asks and the other Horsemen look at him with narrowed eyes and a hint of malice.
"You're just an alternate," Famine says, dusting ash from her shoulders. "You don't get to ride anything."
"Hey, my horse got eaten, too," he says petulantly.
"Your horse was ugly," she says.
"Your face is ugly."
"Enough!" God roars. She's listened to their childish sniping for the last half hour while the seraphim and a few satyrs swept up the charred remnants of the heavenly horses. She's covered in residual ash and becoming less and less impressed with Her Horsemen, including Conquest, by the minute.
"Look, the Dragon Kings have apologized profusely for the mishap and they've agreed to get you all new horses, but it's going to take awhile."***
"And how long is awhile, Madame?" War asks, his accent prim and proper as always.
"They're heavenly horses, War. These things take time."
"Ballpark?" he asks.
She sighs. "Another century or so." The Horsemen all begin to complain at the same time and She silences them with a glare. "Hey, I know it's inconvenient, but it's not like there's an apocalypse coming up any time soon, so just relax and We'll fix it somehow."
She leaves them in the capable hands of Raphael and heads back towards the main building with Metatron in tow. He's frowning at Her again.
"What?" She asks. "What did I do now?"
"You forgot about that meeting You had with Mephisto, Lucifer, and Hades a few Pearly Gates weeks ago, didn't You?"
"What meeting?" She asks, completely drawing a blank.
Meta arches an eyebrow at Her. "The one where the four of You decided to have an apocalypse because the world wasn't paying enough attention."
"Oh..." She says, vividly remembering the two hour conference on all things sharp, pointy, and firey. "Shit."
* * *
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Conquest are waiting impatiently for God to arrive and unveil Her surprise. She called an hour earlier and asked them to meet Her in the parking lot of the Pearly Gates Corporation. She didn't exactly say what She wanted, just that She had a suprise for the five of them.
"Did you hear?" Conquests asks. War, Famine and Death ignore him, but Pestilence takes the bait.
"Hear what?" he asks. A locust drops out of Pestilence's ear and Conquests watches with thinly veiled disgust as the insect lands on the ground and hops away. Sometimes, he's very glad that's he's just an alternate for this traveling circus.
"She forgot to tell us about an apocalypse. We've only got a month or so in Pearly Gates time before we need to be downstairs for Armageddon."
"First of all," Pestilence says, raising his hand to tick off a list of things on his spindly fingers, "there is no we. It's the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, not five." Conquest wonders what would happen if he punched a Horseman in the face. He immediately thinks better of it, though, when a cockroach crawls out of the Horseman's nose and pauses on his cheek. "Second of all, what's a month in Pearly Gates time equal to downstairs?"
"About five hundred years." Conquest points at Pestilence's face. "You've got something on your cheek."
The Horseman swats at his cheek and the cockroach scuttles away from his hand, coming to a full stop atop Pestilence's nose. "Did I get it?" he asks.
"Nope. Here, let me." Conquest hauls off and smacks Pestilence across the face, hard enough to send the cockroach flying through the air and onto Death's bald head, who idly flicks it onto the ground. "Got it," Conquest says and Pestilence glares at him.
"You did that on purpose," Pestilence whines.
"Maybe," Conquest says with a wide grin.
Conquest is about to suggest the Horseman go blow his nose with some sandpaper when a honking sound reaches the group's ears and they all turn in unison to see God and Michael roll up in a Volkswagon minibus. A green and white Volkswagon minibus. A green and white Volkswagon minibus that technically won't be invented for another four hundred sixty years.
"What is that?" Famine asks and from the driver's seat Michael grins at her.
"This, my dear, is a Volkswagon Mini Bus." He pats the driver's side door affectionately. "Seats eight comfortably, takes diesel so it's not horrible for the environment, and I'm pretty sure there's a stash of doobies in the side compartment in the trunk."
None of them know what a Volkswagon is or what diesel is, or, for that matter, what the hell a doobie is, but they do know that none of what Michael just said equates to a horse.
"Turns out we do have an apocalypse coming up," God says. "So, We had lunch with Porrima and Cassandra**** and asked them what all the hip kids in the future would be driving and they gave Us the idea for this." She's beaming like a proud parent. "Vulcan was kind enough to build it and Loki got it working."
All Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are staring at Her like She's just told them they need to be more touchy feely. Conquest, however, is silently laughing. In fact, he's laughing so hard there are tears streaming down his face.
"What are we supposed to do with it?" Death asks, his voice dripping with disdain.
She stares at them, confused. "You'll use it in the interim, just until your horses are ready." She turns to look at Michael. "Am I speaking in tongues or something?"
"They're just in shock, is all," Conquest says around a mouthful of giggles.
"The Four Volkswagon Minibus Occupants of the Apocalypse," Michael says with a grin he can't contain. "Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
* It would have made Hieranymous Bosch blush, and that's saying something.
** Loki is the Norse God of Mischief. God of Mischief making an elevator. Right. That one will end well.
*** Not only are the 4 Dragon Kings incredibly apologetic, but even the dragons themselves seem a little ashamed of themselves. There's a large gray one not too far away from God at the moment who is hanging its head and sighing. She knows this because every now and again the hem of Her dress catches on fire.
**** Porrima and Cassandra are the resident psychics at the Pearly Gates Corporation. They're far more accustomed to visions of death and destruction, so it was a welcomed change of pace when God asked them to dream up an alternative to horses. It helped, too, that She bribed each of them with a box of chocolates She'd stolen from Aphrodite's Love Closet...a place She never ever wants to go into ever again.