Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Tiny Hands of Fate (or an Approximation Thereof)

Metatron is used to having terrible days. He's a glorified mediator most of the time and constantly having to deal with fighting immortals and creatures (both natural and unnatural) takes its toll on his cheery disposition. There are days when God tasks him with explaining things to those gods and goddesses who have a hard time understanding Her, either because they've chosen not to or because they don't necessarily speak the same language and Meta ends up on the wrong end of someone's lightning bolt (Zeus) or hammer (Thor) or googly-eyed fern (Charles Darwin).

Sometimes, though, it isn't an aspect of Meta's job that leads him into a terrible day, but instead he simply wakes up and things rollercoaster downhill from there. For instance, when he woke up this morning, the Voice of God knew he was going to have a craptastic day from the start. He hit his head on a low-hanging rosary as he was getting out of bed. Then, on his way to the bathroom, he stubbed his toe on the oversized cross in his hallway and the hanging idol of Jesus laughed at him.(1) He's learned over these last few thousand years that when a molded stone imitation of the World's Savior laughs at you, it's never a good sign - especially in light of Jesus' off-beat sense of humor.(2)

He survived his morning meetings - all six of them - and is currently standing in the line to the dessert bar in the Pearly Gates Corporation's lunchroom. Dionysus had been in charge of the last meeting, a twenty-minute diatribe regarding the catering for the annual Fall Harvest Festival in the Greek and Roman levels, and all the god could talk about was the Death by Chocolate cake the lunchroom had planned to serve with lunch. Now, three hours later, all Meta wants for lunch is a glass of milk and a slice of Death by Chocolate Cake. The minion in front of him grabs a bowl of pudding and Meta sees that there's just one slice left. The minion moves out of the way and as Meta reaches out for the plate and that last piece of chocolately goodness, his hand is swatted away by one of the many arms of Shiva, which then swoops in and steals the plate.

He whirls on the Hindu god. "Did you seriously just smack me so you could get that piece of chocolate cake?" Meta asks, shaking out his injured hand.

Shiva shrugs. He has plates of food in each of his four hands, including the chocolate cake. "Maybe," he says. He licks chocolate frosting off his finger. "Thanks for the cake, Stringbean," he says.

"Considering the size of your stomach, fatso, you might want to have the fruit cup instead," Meta grumbles.

Shiva looks down at his protruding stomach and shrugs. "I don't know. Seems to me the ladies like it," he says and moves to leave the dessert line.

Meta holds his arm out to block Shiva's retreat. "That's my piece of chocolate cake," he says.

"Oh, in that case," Shiva says and holds the plate out. Meta goes to reach for it but Shiva pulls it out of his reach before he can grab it. "Too slow," the Hindu god says, grinning.

Meta, if asked, will always deny that he threw a plate of coconut cream pie in the face of Shiva the Destroyer. He'll say that the pie came out of nowhere, that someone very kind must have seen what happened with the chocolate cake and felt the need to defend The Voice of God's dessert-time honor. He'll call the Hindu god a liar and a cake thief and he'll demand reparations.

He should have instead remembered he was The Voice of God. It would have made things a lot easier.

* * *

His hands are tiny. They are not usually tiny but are instead usually very long and reminiscent of spider legs in the way the last two bones of each finger curl inwards. With his arms at his sides, the tips of Meta's fingers almost reach his knees.

Today, they're barely poking out the sleeves of his jacket.

"My hands!" he hollers as he runs into God's office, holding the offending appendages up so that She can see them.

She looks up from the stack of intake forms on Her desk and shrieks in terror. "Holy hell, what happened to your hands?!" She asks, Her voice high and panicky. He takes a step towards Her desk and She stands quickly, Her chair falling over as She backs away from him. He stops moving.

"I don't know!" he shouts. "I woke up and they were like this." He waves them and She shrieks again, holds Her own hands up to block him out. He pauses, frowns at Her. "What's wrong with You?" he asks.

"Nothing," She says, smoothing out Her toga and attempting to look put together and calm. He takes another step towards Her and She immediately retreats backward, bumping into the card catalog behind Her desk.(3) "Just stop moving," She says. "Please."

He does as She asks and his arms drop to his sides, his sleeves hiding his now tiny hands. With them out of sight, She seems to lose Her manic edge and come back to Her senses.

"Now, let's think about this rationally." She motions for him to sit in one of Her visitor chairs. She stays standing with Her back against the card catalog. "You started a food fight with Shiva in the lunchroom yesterday," She says and he nods. "He has a penchant for making things small, something you might have remembered before you threw a pie in his face."

"I maintain I didn't throw the pie and even if I had, he deserved it. He took the last piece of chocolate cake, Ellie," Meta whines. "And he smacked me." He mimes his hand being smacked by his other hand and the sight of two tiny hands hitting each other has God wanting to hide under Her desk. A muscle in Her cheek twitches and Meta looks at Her funny. "You're afraid of tiny hands, aren't You?" he asks, suddenly understanding.

"No," She says, instantly flustered. "That's ridiculous. Why would you ask Me something like that?"

"Because You're sitting on top of Your card catalog instead of at Your desk across from me. And these." He waves his hands at Her and She screams before She can stop Herself. He smirks.

"Okay, fine" She says, a little breathless. "I may be a little afraid of tiny hands."

"And by little, you mean...?"

"Very. Bordering on terrified."


"I haven't a clue. Now would you please put those damn things in your pockets so I can get the hell down from here?"

He does as She asks. "The easiest thing to do here, for both of us, is for You to fix it," he says.

She eyes him warily. "I wouldn't even know where to start," She says. "It isn't permanent, though. That much I do know."

Meta's eyes go wide. "You've seen this before, then?"

She nods. "He shrunk Jupiter's head after the god had accidentally bumped into him and spilled his coffee."(4) God hops down off the card catalog and cautiously sits at Her desk. In an effort to focus on anything besides the tiny hands across from Her, She begins signing the intake forms once again. "I really wouldn't worry about it, Meta," She says, not looking up. "I give it a day, or two, tops."

"And if they don't go back to normal, then what?"

"Juno is looking for a new administrative assistant," She says, managing a smile. "I've heard the goatskin armor really grows on you after awhile."

* * *

It lasts six days. He's banned from God's office for the duration of it and because he's always been just slightly inclined to certain acts of mischief, he waves at Her whenever he sees Her around the building. Each time, She shrieks in terror and runs in the opposite direction. It loses its novelty, however, after She throws an alarm clock at his head and he ends up with the actual clockface embedded in his forehead for a couple of hours...during which the dials keep perfect time.

He keeps his hands to himself after that.

He's back in the lunchroom on the seventh day, his hands having returned to their normal size, and he finds himself standing behind an oblivious Shiva in the dessert line. As they near the plates of cakes and cups of puddings, Meta sees the prize - one delectable looking piece of chocolate cake, all by itself. Shiva goes to reach for it and Meta smacks his hand out of the way, grabs the plate off the bar, and turns an evil grin on the Hindu god.

"Ha ha!" he shouts. "I win."

"You do know I'm the Destroyer of Worlds," Shiva says, attempting his best menacing glare. Meta thinks he'd look a lot more imposing if there wasn't a bowl of Jell-o in his second left hand. Whenever he shifts his arms, the blue substance wiggles and it makes Meta want to dance.

"Oh, yes, of course. How silly of me to forget." Meta holds the plate out for Shiva to take. He snatches it back at the last minute, though, and the god's face clouds over. Meta, who's since realized the error of his ways since his first cake-snatching encounter with Shiva, leans in close and uses the voice his maker gave him.

"TOO SLOW!" he bellows and Shiva's perfectly coifed (matted) hair blows straight out from his head. He's left teetering on his bare heels, dazed and confused from the full force of (literally) the Voice of the Voice of God. Most of his lunch items have been blown away, including the blue Jell-o.

"Pleasure doing business with you, Destructor," he says, patting the dazed god on the shoulder as he walks past him. "And thanks for the cake."

(1) A few Earthly years earlier, Meta had done some work at a church in Buenos Aires and as a thank you for all his kind words - which were, in fact, his own words because the message God had sent him downstairs to deliver had needed tweaking before he thought it appropriate to say within the confines of a house of worship - Father Amalda had given him a gigantic rosary and a gilded cross. His sense of honor forbade him from getting rid of them; his sense of interior design, however, begged and pleaded with him to turn them over to the Salvation Army and put up a Georgia O'Keefe instead.

(2) Well, if you'd been strung up on a crucifix, left to die, and had subsequently risen from the dead three days later your funny bone might be just a little left of center, too.

(3) Whatever you do, don't open those drawers. Should you ever find yourself alone in God's office and have the urge to open those drawers, just remember I told you so. And for the record, souls are much easier to take out of a drawer than they are to put back into one. Keep it in mind.

(4) Jupiter's never been right in the head - he's a big, powerful god who's afraid of just about everything in the known (and, at times, unknown) universe, including bunny rabbits - but for the three days his head was shrunken, he seemed almost normal. His wife, Juno, has been scheming to have it happen again ever since.