Friday, September 23, 2011

Things One Shouldn't Say When Meeting God for the First Time

Okay. So you've died and gone to Heaven, Incorporated and you're meeting God for the first time. You're about to have your entire belief system marginally blown out of the water and the greatest thing about God is that She gets it. You're expecting an old white dude with a long beard and flowing robe and instead you get a gorgeous woman with caramel skin and green eyes who fills out a toga in a way that makes you think earthly women need lessons. She understands all that because She's God and She knows how you think - knows what you're thinking - and loves you all the same.

That doesn't mean She appreciates the oggling, or the dead fish impressions, or the occasional attempt at an exorcism.(1) She may be a deity and may put Her sandals on differently in the morning (2) but that doesn't mean She isn't just like everyone you've ever met before in your tiny little earthly life.

To save yourself a long stay in a spectacularly warm room, though, it's recommended that you never voice the following five things when first meeting God. Trust us; with advice like this, you may actually get out of the DMV even after you've died.

1. "Are You sure You're God?"

Oh boy, is She sure. She's so absolutely positive about being God that She'd like to prove it to you. Just pay close attention while She smites your ass.

2. "Do you know Jesus/Jimi Hendrix/Any other dead person you've always wanted to meet?"

Yup. She does. She has lunch with a whole lot of dead people on a daily basis and Jesus is Her half-brother. Does She want to talk to you about them? Hell no. Why's that? Because you've just died and your naughty/nice list has appeared in Her inbox with a definite slant towards the former. You've got bigger things to worry about at the moment.

3. "What's Hell really like?"

It's hot. And there are demons. And if you're really unlucky, you work for Satan. Any other stupid questions?

4. "So. Garden of Eden."

How about the next time you royally screw up in your life, we all just knock on your door and remind you of it? What's that? You died while antagonizing a buffalo on the side of the road? Haha, wow...let's talk about that constantly for the next hundred or so years...

5. "Can I get in contact with my dead relatives and/or friends?"

This is a completely valid question. Who wouldn't want to see their deceased loved ones when they've finally arrived in the afterlife? But don't ask God.(3) She isn't the tour guide, She's the President. Do you think the President knows where all the bathrooms are in the White House? Find a docent wearing a blue blazer and ask all the questions you can manage - they love it when you bother them incessantly.

So there you go. A quick and dirty guide to your first few moments in the Pearly Gates Corporation. Remember to look at the wall maps so you'll always know where you are. There are all sorts of interesting hallways to travel down...however, some of them lead to rooms full of nasty things like classrooms.

(1) She thought for the first few years of Her tenure at Heaven, Inc. that saying "I cast you out, demon!" was just how the Baptists said hello.

(2) Her sandals have wings. Have you ever tried to put on sandals sporting tiny wings on their sides? No? Then stop judging.

(3) Honestly, She loves this question. Nine times out of ten, She'll even help you find them. Unless they're downstairs, in which case She'll have Gabriel help you find them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Perilous Case of the Exploding Minion (er...Demon)

It's nearly two in the morning when the lamp on Claire's bedside table flickers on and the very much asleep Prophet of God mumbles something about shutting off the moon. She does not, however, wake up.

The light gets stronger, brighter, causing Claire's eyelids to flutter open and a frown to appear on her normally impassive face. She turns the lamp off, smiles once more, and rolls away from it, buries her head under a mountain of blankets and pillows - just in case it decides to try it again.

The lamp, not to be out manuevered, turns itself back on and tips over onto the bed.

"Dirty billards," Claire says, pulling herself out from under the blankets and pillows. "Talk about a fire hazard." She turns the lamp off once again.

"Oh good," a feminine voice says from the doorway to the bedroom and Claire starts, falls out of bed in a heap of bare limbs and mismatched socks. God grins at her and waves. "You're up."


God at least has the decency to make Claire coffee and breakfast while She explains why She's suddenly appeared in the prophet's apartment. The unfortunate side of it, however, is that God can't, for the afterlife of Her, make a decent cup of joe. She can create planets, explode stars, make life, and even get jiggy with it, but She's an utter failure at coffee making.

Claire takes a tentative sip, grimaces when the bitter liquid hits her tongue with the same flavor reserved for batter acid. God looks at her expectantly.

"Well?" She asks.

"I think You're getting a little better at it," Claire says, setting down the cup. "This tastes more like acid and less like sludge." God frowns, setting off car alarms all down the block, and Claire sighs. "Why are You here?" she asks. She hazards a glance at the clock on the stove and wishes almost immediately that she hadn't. There are single digits...low single digits...glaring at her in green light. "Better yet, why are You here three hours before sunrise on a Saturday."

"How do you feel about Florida?"

"The same way You feel about Hell."

God's pout becomes more pronounced. "I'm having a little problem with a demon down there."

Claire sips her coffee without thinking and regrets it. "So call an exterminator," she says. "I tell people about You, convince them to play for the side of good. I do not get rid of demons in swamps."

"It's in Miami."


God stares at her for a moment and Claire stares right back. She learned a long time ago, when she first became a prophet, that the best way to keep God from bossing you around was to look Her in the eye and stand your ground.

"I'll fly you first class and spring for a suite."

There's only so much ground one can stand when faced with fluffy towels and free champagne.


Gabriel, dressed in short khakis and a Hawaiian shirt and sporting a thick, black mustache on his tanned face, meets Claire at her hotel. Sort of. He lands on her balcony, knocks on the door, and scares the shit out of her. She's expecting Michael, so the sudden appearance of God's right-hand-angel throws her for a loop.

Claire opens the sliding door. "Magnum P.I. called," she says. "He wants his shirt and mustache back."

He frowns, smooths down the mustache. "I'm sure that would be hilarious if I knew who this Magnum person was."

Claire hides a grin and shakes her head. "Nice to see you, Gabe."

"Somewhat the same, Claire." He motions over his shoulder. "Shall we get on with it? I have a bridge game with Hermes and Shiva in three Earthly hours and if I'm late, Shiva destroys my cards. He literally destroys them."(1)

"Do you know where we're going?" she asks.

"She mentioned something about a crackhouse..."


God gets confused with Earthly references. What She thought was a crackhouse was actually a house cracked in half by a recent hurricane. And the demon, who God told her was evil and terrible and would most likely suck her soul if given the chance, was actually an adorable little boy with an afro and a grin that lit up the cracked house.

"That's a small child," Gabriel says, confused.

"Your observation skills are getting better."

"What's up, Heaven Ink?" the little boy says, his grin widening even more. There's a flash of white teeth - white, pointed, very sharp teeth - and the illusion of him being simply a child is vaporized. "You the po-po?"

"Do you have a name?" Claire asks.


Recognition hits Claire with an animated background and lots of bright colors.(2) She can't help it - she laughs.

The little boy grows in size, proves he's definitely NOT a little boy, and Gabriel seems to shrink a little, hides behind Claire. (3)

"Don't laugh at the demon, Claire," he hisses.

"Yeah, lady, it ain't nice to laugh at demons!"

Claire's spent time in a vault with the Devil, has had lunch with Hades, and grew up with her mother. She doesn't scare easily, especially when faced with a lower level demon wearing a Sponge Bob Squarepants t-shirt. She rolls her eyes. "Just do your thing, Gabe. I'm hot, I'm tired, and there's a huge jacuzzi tub in my hotel suite calling my name."

"You're such a mortal," he says and pushes back the hair on his forearms like sleeves.(4)


God pops into Claire's hotel room three hours after Gabriel does his thing and disintegrates the little demon. Gabe's back in the Penthouse and She's all smiles. Meanwhile, Claire's still picking pieces of demon from her curls.

"Two things: first, that was horrible. You should have told me Razul was a little boy."

"Technically, his coporeal form is a little boy. He's actually a three foot tall green thing with scales and the disposition of a rattlesnake."

Claire pauses in her de-demoning long enough to throw an icy frown in God's direction. "Second, You could have warned me that when you blow those damned things up, they have a ridiculously huge blast radius."

God rolls Her green eyes. "Oh please, Claire. It was just a little coporeal form explosion. Think of it as blowing away the fluffy part of a dandelion."

"Dandelions do not have horns and tails and a definite dislike of being exploded!" She combs a piece of demon from her hair and flings it in God's direction, where it lands on Her pristine white linen pants with a sad squelching noise.

"These are brand new, Claire," She says, Her voice borderling whining.

"I'm not even sure why You sent me down here. Gabriel did all the work."

"Did he?"

"He's the one who blew up Razul." She points to her hair. "I just collected the evidence of it."

"There are bad things coming, Claire. The more exposure you have to them, the better prepared you'll be."

"So the apocalypse is going to be full of exploding demon children?"

God sighs, hides Her face behind Her hands. "You have a gift for missing the point." Claire flings another piece of demon at Her. It lands in Her afro and even God has a difficult time not being disgusted. "Spot on with the demon pieces, though."

(1) Shiva the Destroyer...of all things fun. See here.

(2) Razul, as in the guard from the Disney movie "Aladdin". As in the fat guy with the satanic goatee...who also happens to be a demon in the shape of a little boy with a huge afro. Claire loves when her life takes a turn for the truly strange - it's so different from her usual state of weirdness.

(3) The only thing in the universe Gabriel could hide behind is Zeus. And Zeus makes a Buick look small.

(4) Gabriel is one hairy mofo.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Little Lucy's Coffee and Soul Emporium

Michael finds himself late to lunch on most occasions. It's usually a normal excuse, like too much work or God has him running errands She can't convince Metatron to do, but sometimes it's just plain laziness. Like today. He could have gotten up from his chair at lunchtime and made it down before they closed the kitchens, but he just didn't feel like it. So instead of the meatloaf special (which he wasn't really looking forward to, anyway), he's eating a stale danish and drinking hours old coffee. Because it's so quiet in the lunchroom, though, he's actually enjoying it.

Until Lucifer shows up and decides to ruin Michael's party by sitting down at the table with him.

"Did you miss lunch, too?" Michael asks, carefully avoiding subjects on which the Devil might feel obligated to expound.(1)

"As a matter of fact, I did." He points to the meager meal in front of Michael. "Is any of that good?"

"The coffee ate the spoon about three minutes ago and I think I chipped a tooth on the danish, but overall it isn't the worst thing I've ever eaten."

Lucifer stares at him a beat longer before getting up from the table and disappearing into the kitchen. When he reappears a few minutes later, he has a fresh pot of coffee in one hand a plate with bread, cheese, and fruit piled high on it in the other. He sets them in the middle of the table and grabs two cups before sitting down again.

"It ain't loaves and fishes, but it'll do in a pinch," he says, pouring out fresh black coffee.

Michael inhales a waft of steam from his coffee cup, quirks an eyebrow. "Why, Lucy, I do believe this coffee smells like brimstone."

Lucifer inhales, takes a large sip. "Indeed it does, angel. And it tastes like despairing souls, as well."

"Manufacturing coffee now, are we?" Michael asks, sipping his coffee slowly. He doesn't think it'll have any adverse effects on him, but all the same - if the Devil brewed it, there's no telling what it's capable of.

Lucifer shrugs, leans back in his chair. He looks casual and comfortable in a well-tailored linen suit and light blue oxford shirt, sans tie. Michael glances around the edge of table, finds his suspicions confirmed - boat shoes, no socks, incredibly hairy ankles.

"We just had a handful of Colombian drug lords arrive downstairs. Terrible people, definitely headed for the barraks in the Pit of Despair Wing, but goodness do they know how to make a cup of coffee."

"Getting fashion tips, as well, I see," Michael says with a smirk.

Lucifer grins, the flash of sharp, white teeth somewhat subdued by his attire. "They spend eternity in purple jumpsuits," he says. "I just can't see throwing out a perfectly good set of linen suits." He holds both of his hands up, five fingers on one and two on the other. "Seven of them, Mike. Seven."

"Got anything in a forty-four long?" Michael asks.

"Not with them, but there's a crew of mobsters arriving from Miami in the evening - I'm sure I could rustle up something for you."

Michael nods. "Ellie's always bugging me to dress better."

"I'm not one to usually agree with Her Grand Self, but togas are a little outdated."

"Damn comfortable, though." He stands, sways his hips, and the fabric around his legs sways. "Not to mention breezy." He reclaims his chair.

"I'm not sure that image will ever leave me," Lucifer says.

"Let me add to it by telling you I'm footloose and fancy free."(2)

Lucifer cringes. "Yup. That did it." He taps his temple. "Burned in there forever and ever." He finishes his coffee, takes a hunk of bread and cheese, a handful of grapes. He stands. "Thanks for the conversation, Mike," he says.

"No problem, Lucy. Thanks for the coffee."

The Devil nods, disappears into the hallway. Michael sits and finishes his coffee, is just pouring himself a second cup when God and Saint Rita(3) arrive in the lunchroom. Rita is all smiles under her habit. She waves at Michael, practically skipping across the room to his table. He's always had a soft spot for Rita - he likes a woman who refuses to see anything but possibility.(4)

"We just passed Lucy in the hallway," Ellie says, sitting down across from the archangel. "I hate to say it, but he looked good in that suit."

"Spoils of the Colombian drug war," Michael says. He motions to the pot of coffee, which is still steaming. "Coffee?"

"Did the Magenta Misfit make it?" Ellie asks.

"He did, indeed. He could have a second career as a barrista if things don't work out for him as the Root of all Evil." He sips his coffee, hums with approval. "Little Lucy's Coffee and Soul Emporium. It's a bargain."

Ellie pulls a face, something between amusement and disgust. "I think I'll pass. We both know what happened the last time I drank something he'd made."

Rita sits down, pours herself a cup of coffee, and takes a sip before anyone can stop her. She stares down at the cup. "Lord, this is amazing. You mean to tell me the Devil himself made this?" she asks.

"Seems impossible, right?" God asks before She can stop Herself.

Rita pours herself more coffee. "No one likes a smartass, Dia."

(1) Like who his favorites are on the most recent season of American Idol. Michael's never been a fan of pop music, but he can appreciate a good, upbeat song as much as the next person (with wings). American Idol, though, offends his punk rocker sensibilities. It would figure the Devil would endorse it.

(2) He forgot to do laundry (which means he forgot to leave his laundry out for the cherubs to do), so he's currently commando. Buckwild. Naked under his clothes. Do I really need to go on?

(3) St. Rita, Patron Saint of the Impossible. Those days when you just don't think your skinny jeans will contain your not so skinny ass but they do? St. Rita. You wake up with fifteen minutes to get ready and eat breakfast and you still make it into work on time and looking fabulous? Yup, St. Rita. She's pretty much the shit.

(4) Sometimes, he wishes she'd rub off a little on Ellie. And then he reminds himself that he's not supposed to be in love with his boss...especially since his boss is THE BOSS.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cupcakes and Communion

Dedicated to my dad in honor of Father's Day. "Harry Rogers" never would have existed were it not for Arthur Hunt.

Come to think of it, neither would I. :)

* * *

Harry Rogers never pictured himself a father.

When he first married Katharine, they discussed the possibility of children in the future. While the idea terrified him (truthfully, it left him pale and shaken with an appetite for scotch he didn't fully comprehend), he told his wife - whom he loved truly, madly and very deeply - he'd consider it.

She gave him seven years to consider it before she dropped it in his lap with a large smile and a Father's Day card in the middle of October. He remembers opening the card, reading the 'congratulations' scrawled inside it, and feeling a bubble of pure joy work it's way up his throat.(1)

Claire was born in March. Katharine took to motherhood like a natural while Harry stumbled through it like an amatuer. He spent the first three months of her life living in fear of dropping her. He'd bundle her up just to move her around the house, a precaution against his clumsiness and worry.

Claire was six when they had Patrick and by then Harry was a pro. He changed diapers, never dropped his newborn son(2), never lost sight of his precocious and rambunctious children, and became very very good at keeping calm in the face of unbelievable insanity.

Which was good, because after Claire's six birthday, "unbelievable insanity" took on a whole new meaning.

* * *

The most memorable Father's Day of Harry's youth was when Claire was just eight years old. She left a handwritten note in the kitchen, discovered hours after she'd disappeared, stating she'd decided to take off on a "holy mission". Katharine had been immediately frantic, calling everyone they knew.(3) While she panicked, Harry went upstairs and checked Claire's room. He found her piggy bank missing and, knowing his daughter's penchant for equating cupcakes with the Lord,(4) decided to take a walk down the street.

He found her in a bakery three blocks away from their house, just as he suspected he would. She was covered in crumbs and streaked with chocolate, the remnants of her piggy bank on the chair beside her. He sat down next to her and she offered him the remainder of a vanilla cupcake, which he took and bit into without a second thought.

"What did you do today, Claire?" he asked around a mouthful of cake and icing, which was excellent.

"I communed with God," she said.

"Did you now?" She nodded, proud and sure. "And how did you do that, exactly?"

She smiled widely. "I ate six chocolate cupcakes."

Harry hid a smile behind a napkin and swallowed the remainder of his cupcake. "Did you know insanity is hereditary, my gorgeous girl?" he asked. Claire shook her head, red curls bouncing in opposing directions. He took a napkin and began to clean her face. "Well it is." He crumpled up the napkin and smiled at her, far too relieved to be angry. "You get it from your kids."

* * *

Harry remembers perfectly when Claire took her first communion. She accepted the wafer from the priest, set it in her mouth, and turned to look at her family with a terribly disgusted look on her face that made Katharine roll her eyes almost instantly. It made Harry laugh out loud, only to be shushed by his wife.

"How was it?" Harry asked afterwards as they left the church.

"It wasn't cupcakes and milk," she grumbled, "that's for sure."

(1) It wasn't, unfortunately, joy. It was instead food poisoning. But once he was feeling better, he definitely bubbled over with joy. In a masculine way, of course.

(2) Accidentally allowing him to roll off the countertop into a trash can does not constitute "dropping". Don't argue semantics with an English professor.

(3) She basically called Michael and yelled at him for half an hour about shirking his duties as Claire's guardian angel. Michael's hair was dirty blonde before he met Claire...he blames the gray strands on both her and her mother. Every single one of them.

(4) Katharine had once given Claire a chocolate cupcake and told her it was God's favorite thing in the entire universe. Children make associations, hilarious and typically incorrect associations.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sabotage is Not French for Rapture

The elevator doors open and reveal God in all Her resplendent beauty. Lucifer scowls as She smiles at him. He takes a deep, fortifying breath and steps in, hits the "L" button and does his best to ignore the Woman behind him. He taps his foot in time to the music filtering into the elevator car, hums along with the familiar tune.(1)

God giggles, attempts to cover it with a cough, and fails miserably. He turns and frowns at Her once more. She waves a hand at him, sobers.

"Sorry," She says. "Frog in My throat."

He pulls a gold pocket watch from his pinstripe blazer and glances at it, then looks at Her once again. "You do know what time it is, don't You?" he asks. She nods, shrugs Her caramel colored shoulders. "Shouldn't You be meeting with the Council?"


"But what about the thing, downstairs..."

"The Rapture?" She asks and he nods. "They've got it covered."

He stares at Her a moment longer, during which time She smiles widely at him, flashing perfect white teeth. She's glowing in the small elevator car, beautiful as usual.

"Kind of a gamble letting the Council take care of something so big, isn't it?"

She shrugs again and the elevator slows, dings its arrival in the Lobby. "Honestly, Lucy, what's the worst that could happen?" She brushes past him and steps out into the Lobby, waves at him, and disappears down a hallway he didn't even know existed.

He watches Her walk away, white toga flowing around Her in the way only a piece of heavenly fabric could, and realizes that despite the fact She infuriates him and he's hell bent (not pun intended) on destroying Her, Ellie makes a gorgeous prospect.

"I need a demon to kick," he mutters and heads towards the DOWN escalators.

* * *

She's lounging with a group of wood nymphs, discussing serious matters of the heart(2), when Metatron finds Her. He looks distraught and disheveled, not his usual unflustered self at all. God sighs.

"Let Me guess," She says as he pauses to catch his breath, "the Council fucked it up."

He nods, taps his nose, and says "ding, ding, ding". He takes a final deep breath, calms himself, and pulls himself up to his full height (all eight feet of it).

"They got caught up in an argument over who would bring what to the apocalypse's after-party and they completely forgot to call Vulcan and Poseidon to get things moving."

God stares at him, Her features slack. She should have expected this, really. This particular apocalypse has been giving Her trouble ever since they scheduled the damn thing.

"Which means what, exactly?"

"The Rapture's been a little...postponed."

God takes a gulp of meade from Her oversized cup, then looks at Meta. "Well, shit," She says.

* * *

A few Pearly Gates hours later, God finds Herself once again in an elevator with the Prince of Darkness. She smiles sweetly at him as he steps on board and the doors close behind him. He once again hits the "L" button and the elevator begins its descent.

"How goes the apocalypse?" he asks, his back to Her.

"Fine," She says.

"I heard Your beloved Council screwed the pooch with the Rapture."

"I'd imagine with ears that large, you hear a lot." Said ears flush a bright shade of purple and God grins at the back of his head. "No need to worry, Lucy. I've righted things, gotten the end of the world back on track."

He looks at Her over his shoulder, a small smile on his lips. "Council members fighting over food dishes, Ellie? Tut tut. Seems to me like You need someone who knows what they're doing with an apocalypse." He puffs out his chest a little. "I'm at Your service, Ellie. The End of Days is a big deal; anything You need, just let me know. I'd hate for it to fall apart - especially after all the work You've put into it."

She stares at him, putting pieces of the puzzle together, and when She arrives at the conclusion She seriously considers slapping him. She talks Herself out of it, though, by reasoning She'd have to touch him and there isn't enough holy water in Heaven to make those cooties disappear - again.

The elevator slows, dings to signify its arrival in the Lobby. He moves aside so She can step past him, but She pauses, leans in close so only he can hear Her.

"A piece of advice: The next time you attempt to sabotage a project of Mine," She whispers into his ear, "I'll demote you to janitor and give all your precious Armani suits to Gabriel." She pulls back, smiles widely. "And I'll make sure he wears them during his molting season." She steps out of the elevator.

He watches Her walk away, his gaze red with fury, and in a fit of childish rage, he kicks out at the first thing that happens to cross his path. His foot connects with a solid mass and his vision clears. He looks up and finds himself face-to-belt-buckle with Zeus.

"Did you just kick me?" the god asks and Lucifer swallows, hard.

"Would you believe me if I said it was an accident?" he asks.

Zeus' response is to punt him across the Lobby. He decides, as he's flying through the air, that it's definitely the fastest way he's ever taken to the DOWN escalators.

If only he'd stuck the landing...

(1) "Devil Went Down to Georgia" - c'mon, you know you saw that one coming.

(2) Mostly. Nymphs tend to deal with matters of a whole other part of the anatomy entirely...

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Toasting" to the Easter Season

Because She's God and because She sometimes wakes up a little too late to get downstairs for breakfast, Ellie has a small (but well-stocked) kitchen in Her living quarters. Hardwood cabinets, granite countertops, and appliances that haven't even been invented yet on the mortal plane fill up the galley-like space.

This morning, She's toasting bread She "borrowed" from the kitchens the night before while She waits for Her coffee to brew. She's been too busy to put together a shopping list, which means Her well-stocked kitchen is starting to look like a ransacked grocery shop. The bread was just sitting on the counter in the PGC kitchen and it looked too good to pass up - buttery and brown, with flecks of some unknown, yet sweet smelling, spice throughout it. She figured two very specific things: first, that no one would miss a singular loaf of bread (especially a loaf of unleavened bread) and second, that She's the Boss and it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks anyway.

So She took it with Her.

Her coffee finishes brewing just as the front door opens.

"You decent?" a voice calls out into the apartment.

God rolls Her eyes, pulls out an extra coffee cup. "Yes, Michael. I'm decent."

Michael rounds the corner with Jesus in tow and God nearly drops the coffee cup. She doesn't often see Her half-brother(1), so it's always a bit of a shock when he shows up.

"Look who I found, roaming the corridors this morning," Michael says, grinning like the Minotaur who ate the unsuspecting Greek kid.

Jesus waves and God does the calendar math in Her head(2). When She finally realizes what day it is, She frowns.

"Well, shit," She says. "It's April."

Michael's smile widens, if that's even possible. "Yup."

Jesus sniffs the air. "What smells so good?" he asks.

"I'm making toast," God says, distracted. She looks at Michael. "Why didn't you remind Me it was Good Friday?"

He shrugs. "Because I work in the Guardian Angel Division," he says. "You have a secretary, isn't my fault she's a crazy lady in a suit of holy armor."(3)

"Hey, I'm not the one who buried her in that damn suit of armor," God says. "I suggested a nice peasant dress, something comfortable, but you know how the French are."

"Seriously, what kind of bread is that?" Jesus asks, nearing the toaster. "It smells amazing."

"I found it down in the kitchens, some kind of unleavened loaf they were experimenting with." Michael raises his eyebrows at her. "Oh please. It isn't stealing if it's My damn kitchen."

Jesus stops, looks at Her. "Unleavened?" he asks. She nods.

"You found a loaf of unleavened bread in the kitchens the night before Good Friday?"(4) Michael asks, the corners of his mouth curving up in a decidedly mischievous smirk.

"I guess." Michael starts to laugh. She looks at Jesus, is concerned when She sees Her half-brother's gone pale. "What?"

"Ellie," Michael says, wiping his eyes, "think about it. You're literally toasting the 'body' of Christ."

It takes Her a second or two, but She eventually gets it. Good Friday, the Resurrection(5), Easter Sunday...She has it all written down on a calendar somewhere. She purses Her lips, frowns at Michael, then turns to look at Jesus. He looks like he might be sick on the floor of Her kitchen.

"I can't believe You've got my body in that toaster," he says, staring at the appliance in horror. "That's just so wrong..."

Leave it to Jesus to be the drama queen in the room. Ellie rolls Her eyes. "Good lord, it's just bread. Not your actual body." He protests and She shakes Her head, afro dancing wilding around Her head. "Just think about it, Jesus. You've been dead for a loooong time. I'd imagine that by now your body would taste like bad mushrooms and smell like stinky feet."

He regains a little color in his cheeks thanks to the indignation of being told he'd taste like fungus and unwashed toes. "Have You no sense of decency?!" he cries and Michael has to excuse himself he's laughing so hard.

God sighs, annoyed. She decides to play along, though.

"You're right," She says. "I'm being terribly insensitive and I'm sorry." She reaches out, places a hand on Her half-brother's shoulder and squeezes it in what She hopes is a comforting gesture.

He relaxes slightly. "Thank You, Ellie. That means a lot."

"And if it's any consolation," She says, the toast popping up at that precise moment, "your unleavened body really does smell wonderful." She takes a bite of the toast, winks at him. "Tastes pretty heavenly, too."

"I hate You."

She smiles, pats his cheek. "Aw, sweetie, of course you do. We're related." She opens a cabinet door, looks inside. "Now I know I've got a nice bottle of red wine around here somewhere..."

(1) Jesus spends a fair amount of time on Earth, working on different projects. Ministries, random miracles, circus shows, things like that. He also has a rap album that's due to drop later this month. He turns water into wine and he lays fat beats, yo.

(2) Pearly Gates time moves slower than Earth time. That's why God only gets about two hours of sleep every night - otherwise, She'd be three weeks behind on taking care of the faithful and She'd never hear the end of it from Metatron. He nags Her enough as it is.

(3) Joan of Arc...holy martyr...Catholic saint...administrative assistant to God in the afterlife. Makes you seriously reconsider penance, doesn't it?

(4) A large percentage of Earthly Christians forgo the thin, paper-tasting wafers during the Easter season and instead make a sweet unleavened loaf. The ingredients all have symbolic meaning in some religious context or another, but as far as Ellie's concerned, it's a whole bunch of stuff mixed in a bowl that ends up tasting pretty damn good.

(5) Ellie once referenced The Dawn of the Dead in front of Jesus and he didn't speak to Her for three days. She wasn't suggesting he was a zombie, just that he might enjoy a movie full of them. about touchy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Even God Occasionally Takes a Night Off

If there's such a thing as an Olympian Orgy Room on Earth, Claire thinks it might just be Las Vegas on a Friday night.(1) She's surrounded by bodies - young, middle-aged, old - all in various states of undress and all headed in the direction of pounding bass, waterfall bars, five star restaurants, and every stage show known to mankind.(2)

Claire is not a Vegas kind of girl. The lights and glamour of the city hold very little appeal for her. In fact, she wouldn't even be there if it wasn't for her new job in acquisitions at the library in Detroit. Her boss caught wind of an estate sale being held at the Lied Library on the University of Nevada campus and when he found out there would be a collection of very rare - and very very sketchy - first editions up for auction, he booked Claire's ticket before she could even say she had plans for the weekend. Which she did. Because she has a life outside the library. On rare occasions.


So instead of sitting on her couch watching reruns of The X-Files and painting her toenails an obscene and unnatural shade of green, she's playing blackjack at a table in the Bellagio and wondering if her boss would mind if she broke into the minibar in her room.

"They'll most likely fire you," a familiar voice says from her left and she turns to see Metatron sitting on the stool next to her. He's wearing a pale lavender suit that fits his lanky frame perfectly (she's always wondered how, exactly, one tailors clothing to a seven-foot tall unearthly creature) and racking a small stack of chips between his hands.

"I thought you promised to stop reading minds," Claire says. "And could you maybe, next time, wear a less conspicious suit? People are staring."

People are, in fact, staring, but not at the suit. Sure the suit is obnoxious in an Easter Sunday kind of way, but people are staring because Metatron is seven feet tall. Another foot and his head would be brushing the ceiling of the casino.

Meta smiles, drops the chips onto the table, and motions for the dealer to deal him in. "It's a Friday night in Vegas and you're sitting here, all alone, playing blackjack in the quiet corner of the casino." The card that's facing up at him is a jack. Claire frowns at the three in front of her. "Shouldn't you be out cavorting with the sinful hoardes?"

"Shouldn't you be taking dictation and simpering like a good puppy?"

Meta pouts. "My, my, aren't we particularly nasty today."

Claire sighs and her shoulders slump. "I hate Vegas." The dealer flips their covered cards and there's an ace sitting next to Meta's jack. The last of Claire's chips are added to the Voice of God's meager stack and she frowns. "Hate it."

* * *

He treats her to a drink in a jazz club nearby, a jazz club she didn't know existed. The emptiness of its interior would suggest that no one else in the immediate vicinity knows it exists, either.

"Why do I get the feeling this isn't usually here," she says as they sit down at a little table.

Meta's smile is all the confirmation Claire needs. "What can I say, Claire? Even the Earth-bound representatives need a respite from the daily grind." He leans back in his chair, stretches his long legs out. "We pop in for the good music, the shop talk, and the cheap drinks." He points to the stage where a band is setting up. "On occasion, the entertainment is good. I think you'll like who's on this evening," he says. "She's really quite good."

"I think I'm going to head back to my room."

"Claire, sit and drink and enjoy yourself. Good lord, child. Even God takes a night off on occasion."

Claire scoffs. "As if."

And then, just to prove her wrong, the lights lower, the band strikes up an old standard, and Ellie Herself steps out onto the stage in a dress that's mostly plunging neckline and Claire chokes on her drink.

"Told ya."

* * *

God joins them after Her set. A short waitress who resembles a nun Claire used to know in high school swings by and drops a martini glass full of amber liquid off in front of Her.

"I had no idea you were in Vegas!"(3) God says, wrapping Her caramel hands around the glass and elegantly taking a drink. "Isn't it just marvelous?"

Claire processes that statement - and the current situation - in what feels like eons but is actually only a few seconds. When she's able to once again form a coherent thought, she frowns at her Boss.

"Didn't You once level a city just like this place?" she asks and Meta snorts gin up his nose in an effort to keep from spitting it out his mouth. He shakes his head at her while he violently coughs on the alcoholic nasal spray.

God frowns. "I'm quite sure I have no idea what you're talking about, Claire."

"Sodom and Gomorra?" Claire says, eyebrow raised. "Ring any bells?"

God purses Her ruby lips, spins the glass in Her hand while She stares at Her prophet and contemplates the implication. Eventually, She shrugs.

"We all go through phases, Claire." She takes another dainty sip of Her drink - a Manhattan, Claire thinks, though it could be a whiskey sour - and smiles. "For instance, you went through a New Kids on the Block phase."

"Are You seriously comparing my adoration of NKOTB to Your leveling of a Vegas-like city?" God nods and Claire looks to Meta for help. "Don't tell me you didn't go ga-ga over Jonathan Knight."

He sighs, lost in thought. A slow smile creeps over his face and his eyes close. Claire lets him sit there for a few seconds, God watching him with laughter in Her bright green eyes. Eventually, Claire snaps her fingers and Meta opens his eyes, frowns.

"It's really just six of one, half a dozen of the other, Claire." He brushes invisible lint from his pant leg, affects an air of self-importance. "Evil is evil. Only the venue changes."

"I'm back on, kids," God says, finishing Her drink in one long swig, and then leaving them at the table.

Claire points at Meta once God is out of earshot. "You're a pussy."

"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Doesn't matter." He leans in, his voice full of conspiracy. "Now, let's talk a little more about Mr. Knight and his New Kids on the Block pals, shall we? I'm a sucker for a well dressed man singing 'Step by Step' while gyrating his hips."

* * *

She stays for another set, begrudgingly admits to both herself and Meta that not only can God sing but She's solid entertainment - even with the constant possibility of a mortifying wardrobe malfunction. Eventually, after four drinks and an overly profound conversation on the sexuality of 80s and 90s pop bands, she makes her way back to her hotel room, thanks mostly to Meta and his ridiculously long arms.

Meta deposits her in her room with hazy instructions on water consumption and the proper number of aspirin needed to stave off a Hell of a hangover in the morning. He pulls her shoes off and she curls up on her side on the bed.

"You need to have more fun," he says as he tucks her in, kisses her forehead.

"I'm a librarian," she slurs. "We're fucking made of fun."

"Amen to that."

(1) Not that she'd know what an Olympian Orgy Room looks like, mind you, but she's heard rumors...from people...

(2) There's an act where a guy with a red afro wears a gold dress while balancing a bowl of fruit on his head. The little gray dudes from Titan love it.

(3) She really didn't. In fact, the last time She'd checked Claire's schedule, it had been 1992 on Earth and Claire was in algebra class, pining over Tommy Graham. Oh, how time flies...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten

Hi there. I'm Claire, as in THE Claire, as in the name on the header above this rambling bit of prose.

Look up.

See it, there? Yup. That's me.

I'm taking over from the author for a few paragraphs in order to participate in this blogfest thing that the author's friend Erinn put together.(1)

Erinn asked bloggers to talk about their five favorite shows that are no longer airing new episodes. This was a little tough for me, only because I haven't really watched much TV over the years due to my prophetic duties (and a distinct lack of cable throughout college), but I think I've put together a solid list.(2)

1. The Harvard Diaries - a professor of quantum physics and her robot dinosaur, Rufus, mend holes in the space/time fabric. It swear it was the funniest thing I've ever watched, which may have been why it was was supposed to be a drama.

2. Sunrise Yoga Studio - a sitcom about a family of Indian immigrants who run a yoga studio in Detroit. You wouldn't think that premise would be funny, but it worked...kind of.

3. Trixie the Zombie Assassin(3) - a young woman from Texas is trained as a zombie assassin and her life takes her to a town called Moongrove in South Carolina where she shoots zombies. They did a mime episode and the zombies were spectacular, miming their need for brains. Truly good stuff.

4. Elohim's Variety Hour - this used to play Upstairs, but God got kind of bored with it, so She yanked it from the schedule. The few times I caught it, though, I loved it. Especially when She'd have Michael co-hosting. Like a heavenly Rowan & Martin.(4)

5. The Ex-Files - a woman works with a private detective to find all of her ex-boyfriends. Then she sits down with them and asks what went wrong in their relationships. This show lasted a season and a half before the producers finally realized how depressing it was and cancelled their own show. I liked it, though.(5) The lead character had moxie.

So there you go, my favorite Gone But Not Forgotten shows. The author will be back in a few days and I'm sure she'll have new adventures planned for all of us. In the meantime, read through some of the others and leave a little love.

I'm off to convince an atheist that God exists and She's a little put out he doesn't believe in Her.

Wish me luck!

(1) This is freaking you out a little, isn't it? The character of the blog talking to you, the reader of the blog, like she's a real person? Don't worry - the strangeness will eventually wear off...and if it doesn't, there's a lovely little pill called clozapine that should help make it easier.

(2) You might know some of them, but because I'm a fictional character living in a fictional universe, the chances of that are pretty slim. Unless you're a fictional character living in the same fictional universe in which case, we should get coffee.

(3) I've been told there's a different version of this in your universe, something called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sounds neat.

(4) Oh yeah, both universes had
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, thank God.

(5) I was trying out anti-depressants at the time, just for the fun of it. That may have contributed to my appreciation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Bow and Arrow of Love

There is something to be said for waking up alone in the middle of one's bed, arms and legs akimbo without regard. Claire Rogers has, for most of her adult life, spent her nights and mornings just this way. Being a prophet has its downsides, least of which is the permanent impact on her social life.

She finds it difficult to date when there's the possibility she might be called upon by God to convert a handful of atheists at any point in time. The minion in graduate school understood her plight - he had a similar one of his own - but the reality of the situation was simple: he was a minion, she was a prophet, and had they carried on seriously they might have both ended up without a job. She's ashamed to admit that she hasn't gotten laid since. It's starting to wear on her.(1)

These are the thoughts that run through Claire's brain as she lays in bed and stares at the pockmarked ceiling of her apartment in Detroit's only safe neighborhood. She needs to get out of bed and head into work but she can't bring herself to do it. The women she works with have planned a Valentine's Day luncheon and Claire knows there will be decorations and obscene amounts of heart cutouts in shades of pink and red.

"I think I'd rather lie here and wilt," she says to her empty bedroom. Her alarm clock produces a shrill ring as a rebuttal to her argument and she claps a hand down over it, silencing it effectively for the moment. She has ten more minutes to come up with a valid reason for staying in bed. "I could call and say I have the plague or that I'm allergic to candy hearts."(2)

There's a knock on her window and she sits up, hair sticking in every direction but down. Another series of knocks, these more insistent than the last. She frowns when she realizes where they're coming from - the window across the room - and she bolts out of bed. Even before she rips the curtains open, Claire has an idea of what's knocking on her window.

Cupid stares at her, cherubic face grinning like a maniac on cocaine, and he raises a little pudgy hand and waves at her. "Can I come in?" he calls through the window.

"Oh fuck off," she says and closes the curtains.

* * *

Cupid follows her to work, hovering over her car. She's pretty sure she's the only one who can see him, which just makes it all the more wonderful.(3) She parks in her designated space at the library and throws her bag out the window as a decoy. There's a thwap and a swish and a red tipped arrow lands in the center of her leather briefcase.

"Sonovabitch," the little bastard says from above her car.

She closes the window and gets out, locks the door behind her. It'll take him two minutes to reload - he still hasn't quite gotten the hang of the new bow and arrows Venus gave him for Christmas - and Claire can sprint from the parking lot to the front door in less than a minute, even in heels. She grabs her bag on the way past it, pulls out the (invisible) arrow, and heads for the library.

"Come on Claire!" Cupid calls after her and she can hear him fighting with the bow and arrow. There's another thwap and this time, instead of hearing an arrow, she hears him cry out in pain. "Ow! Seriously!?"

Claire starts to giggle mid-stride and she nearly wipes out on the ice at the bottom of the front steps. She pauses to look behind her and regrets her decision. Cupid's managed to get the arrow into the bow and he's pulled back the string.

"It's just a love arrow!" Cupid yells.

"And Hell is just a sauna!"

He lets go of the string and the arrow flies toward her. She ducks and it lands in the solid wood door of the library with a loud thud. She waves at the little monster and heads inside, safe once more.

* * *

"Did You sick Cupid on me this year?" she asks, her voice hushed in the hopes none of her co-workers will hear her and think she's crazy. "Are You that desperate to get me married off?"

God scoffs on the other end of the phone line.(4) "Please. If I wanted to marry you off, I'd do it myself and without the subtly of Cupid."

"A pudgy white dude in a diaper with wings is not subtle. It's the opposite of subtle."

"Maybe Aphrodite's meddling."

Claire sighs. "For the hundredth time, Cupid belongs to Venus. You're thinking of Eros."

"I can't keep the Greeks and Romans straight, Claire. There's too many of them and, quite frankly, they all look alike."

" realize that's maybe just a little racist..."

"Look, I'll talk to Venus - and Aphrodite, just for the hell of it - and see what's up." There's a pause and Claire suspects something may, in fact, be up - but not with the Roman and Greek side of the equation. "Or maybe the fat bastard is just doing it because he's bored and your name came up in conversation."

Claire narrows her eyes at her empty office. "Is that an admission of guilt?" she asks.

"What's that, Claire? You're breaking up..."

The line goes dead and she pulls the phone away from her ear, glares at it. There's a knock on her window and she growls in frustration. She pulls a pen out of her desk, grabs a piece of paper, and hastily writes a note.(5) She then strides across the room purposefully and slams the paper up against the window. When she thinks he's had enough time to read the words, she pulls it away and motions for Cupid to fly away.

"Well you didn't have to be so mean about it," the little man says, his voice muffled by the window glass. He sniffs and flies off.

Claire feels the weight of guilt settle on her shoulders and she sighs, slumps into her chair defeated. "That little bastard made me feel bad about yelling at him," she says. The guilt puts on a little extra weight. "Sonovabitch." She lowers her forehead to her desk and bumps it against the hardwood a couple of times, for good measure.

* * *

He's sitting on the hood of her car when she leaves work later that night. He looks tired and he's using his bow to prop himself up. Claire's footsteps falter when she sees him and she sighs.

"Go ahead," she says. "Just hit me with the damn arrow and get it over with."

He shakes his head. "I ran out of arrows a few minutes ago. Eros will have to get the rest of the sad singles tonight."

Claire frowns. "We're not all sad, you know."

Cupid perks up at this. "You mean you're not unhappy with your single status?"

"Who told you I was?"

He blushes, visible even in the dimness of twilight. "God might have mentioned it once or twice."

"Ellie meddles where She's not necessarily needed." She unlocks the driver's side door of her car. "I'm sorry I threatened you."

He waves her off. "No apologies needed. You didn't want to be struck with an arrow and I was being stubborn. I have a feeling we averted disaster."

Claire nods. "Go home and be with Psyche," she says. "That's what today is all about, right? Spending time with the one you love."

Cupid nods, floats off the hood of her car. "I can't promise Eros won't try anything," he says. "So you might want to say indoors for the rest of the evening." He waves and disappears into the ether of the Detroit evening.

* * *

God is uncorking a bottle of very expensive, very old, red wine when Claire walks into her apartment. She holds the bottle up with a smile.

Claire points at Her. "You're busted," she says.

God's smile fades and She sets the wine bottle down on the countertop. "I take it you managed to avoid the arrows."

"Indeed. I had a short conversation with Cupid just after I left work this evening."

God affects an indiferent air as She pours the wine into glasses. "Did you?"

Claire smiles in spite of herself. "Do me a favor and stop meddling in my love life. You're terrible at it."

"Says you."

"Says everyone." God hands her a glass of wine and they clink their glasses together. "Thanks for caring, though," she says.

God's smile reappears. "Kind of My job."

(1) Even her mother has noticed, from a thousand miles away.

(2) This is not a complete lie. She isn't actually allergic to the candy hearts, but instead to the sayings imprinted on them. For example, when her boyfriend of six months during her sophomore year of college told her he loved her, she broke out in hives and hyperventilated. It was the easiest break up she ever had.

(3) Sarcasm definitely implied.

(4) There's suprisingly good reception from Earth to Heaven, but only a handful of people know God's direct line. For good reason, too. The religious zealots get on Her almight nerves even without knowing Her direct line.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Conversations with God - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

1. What is Your favorite word?

Hmmmm...that's a tough one. I invented a lot of the really great ones, like 'purple' and 'melon baller'. Yeah...'melon baller' might be my favorite combination of words. I have no idea what it means, but something tells Me it's massively important.

2. What is Your least favorite word?

Lucifer. It's like spikes on My tongue whenever I have to say it, so I try very hard never to say it. I call him Lucy instead. He loves it. Seriously.

3. What turns You on?

I'm God...I'm not sure I'm supposed to get turned on...and the last time it happened, well, you know...that being said, though, I'm partial to messy hair and Cuban cigars.

4. What turns You off?

Lucifer. Ack. See? Spikes on My tongue...gross. Can I get a glass of water and maybe a toothbrush?

5. What is Your favorite curse word?

Son of a Hell whore. It kind of kills two birds with one stone - it's both a curse word and an insult. I use it mostly when I'm in meetings with the demons and, occasionally, when the Mormon office manager starts in on Me about My drinking habits. The demons think it's a term of endearment; the Mormon office manager, not so much.

6. What sound or noise do You love?

The quiet of an empty afternoon, when the angels are running things smoothly, and all the gods and goddesses are getting along so there isn't any chatter coming down the hallways. I can do my nails, listen to some Fleetwood Mac, and relax. It's lovely.

7. What sound or noise do You hate?

The whiny undertone of Lucifer's voice. You're sensing a pattern here, aren't you?

8. What profession other than Your own would you like to attempt?

I'd love to try bounty hunting. I've seen that television program, the one down on Earth, and I think it would be fun to go around busting perps. That's what they're called, right? Perps? I'd be badass...a badass perp buster. I've got the perfect shoes for a job like that.

9. What profession would You not like to do?

Teach. Children have these tiny little hands - probably My fault, to be honest - and I'm maybe a little afraid of tiny hands. Maybe. I don't quite know what I'd do if I was surrounded by them on a daily basis. I don't think I'd be sane for very long...

10. If Heaven exists, what would You like to hear God say when You reach the gates?

Um, hello? I am God. And I never hang out at the front door. Saint Peter is super territorial and he gets kind of pissed if you hang around when he's doing his job, which is all the freaking time. I usually just say hello, though, when I eventually meet the new arrivals. Sometimes I shake hands. Sometimes I hug. All depends on My mood, really. One time there was a chest bump and some high fiving. The guy had died after helping to win the Stanley Cup and I'm a hocky fan - it seemed only right to give him a nice welcome, especially with the puck lodged in his forehead.

This is dedicated to my friend Erinn, as it was her idea and she deserves most of the credit. Check her out at Something Else to Distract Me!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Author's Note: The 99th Page Blogfest

Hi. This is the author (see the photo to your right - yes, your right) just stepping in for a moment or two to do some fourth wall breakage (with my inherent clumsiness, this is a literal and figurative possibility). I wanted to let you all know that I'm participating in this thing called The 99th Page Blogfest.

"But hark, what craziness be this, oh Great Author of all things Claire?"

(What? You guys don't talk like that? I'm so very disappointed...)

Well, eager beavers, let me explain (No, no. That'll take too long. Let me sum up...). It's this thing being run by the following lovely ladies: Erinn, Alicia, Holly, Pam and Quita. The gist of it is the authors around the blogosphere post the 99th page of their manuscipts and you, the readers, are asked to decide the following:

1. Would you turn to page 100?
2. Why or why not?
3. Based on what you've read, would you buy the book?

So, without further ado my lovely minions, I respectfully submit the 99th page (which is half a page, as it's the start of Chapter 10) of The (Absolutely, Positively) True Adventures of Claire Elizabeth Rogers to you, the readers.


“Please form a single line and report to the kiosks on the left for assignment.”

The line shifts and Jack hollers to Claire that they’re finally moving. When she doesn’t respond immediately, he looks over and finds the area vacant. No Metatron, no Claire, nothing but white orbs of light and wings. She’s abandoned him, left him for the masses, and gone off on her own to accomplish what he – literally – gave his life to help her do.

“Sonovabitch,” he swears. The elderly woman next to him in line smacks his arm.

“Stop cussing,” she says before moving along past him.

He sticks his tongue out at her when her back is turned.

*Additional house points to those of you who comment with the correct movie and/or television references tucked away in this post. Hint: there's only two of them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yo Momma So Old, She Knows God (Literally)

Katharine Rogers is, or was to be technically precise, the daughter of a blacksmith in Ireland. If given a chance to calculate her approximate age, Kate would tell you to borrow forty-five of your closest friends and ask them to each count to ten. Then she'd ask you to subtract seven.(1) For those of you good with math, it's a kinder way of saying she's currently 443 years old.

How Katharine became an angel in the employ of God is a simple story. She arrived in the offices of Heaven, Incorporated shortly after tripping over a discarded hammer in her father's smithy and falling in just such a way that she impaled herself on a newly forged sword. One minute she was bleeding all over the floor and the next she was standing in a richly furnished room, wearing a white dress, and keeping company with a caramel colored Amazon.

"Good morning, Katharine. I'm God." God was always eloquent in Her opening words to the newly deceased. She'd had years of practice and had finally perfected Her tone of voice (gentle and soothing), Her facial expressions (calm and smiling), and Her tact.

Katharine, on the other hand, was not quite accustomed to being dead and therefore had none of the tact and grace of the deity before her. In fact, Katharine's first words to God at such an awe-inspiring moment in her existence were thus:

"Christ almighty, that hurt like a motherfucker."(2)

* * *

While Katharine was occupied with the New Hire Orientation (mandated by the Pearly Gates Corporation for all newly deceased members of the staff), God did a little research. She discovered that while Her newest angel had been alive, she'd been very good at three things: tying knots, building fires, and pounding metal.(3) So God examined Her current needs in Heaven, Inc. and realized that Saint Eligius needed an assistant out in the Holy Smithy and Katharine, with her previous experience, was the perfect fit. Especially given her cursing proclivities and expertise with a hammer.

Kate, however, did not agree and as soon as God was finished explaining Her plan, the newly annointed angel threw an unholy fit.

"You're kidding me, right?" she asked. "I spent my existence on Earth in a smithy, covered in soot and ash and who knows what the fuck else because smithys are attached to stables and stables are full of horses, and now You want me to spend my afterlife in one, too?" She pulled at her bright red hair. "Do You have any idea what smoke does to hair?" she asked.

God honestly didn't, having never spent too much time out in the stables or the smithy. Big hammers and horses were never really Her thing - She was secretly a little happy when the dragons ate the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse's steeds.(4)

She sighed. "Well, then, where would you like to work?" She asked.

Katharine frowned. "I'd kind of thought I'd retire," she said, "seeing as how I'm dead and supposedly in paradise."

God decided to give it one more try. "How do you feel about libraries?" She asked.

"They're filled with books, right?" Katharine asked, and God nodded, feeling encouraged. "I've never really read a book, just used them as kindling."

God pinched the bridge of Her nose, sighed into the ether, and counted to ten before continuing the conversation. "Go sit in the library," She said, Her voice far calmer than She actually felt. "Read something, and for the love of Me, don't light anything on fire and don't touch anything that isn't supposed to be touched."

Katharine considered it, shrugged. "Sounds easy enough."

* * *

In the first fifty or so Pearly Gates years that Katharine worked in the Heavenly Library, she managed to destroy a handful of "priceless" objects, most of them statues or sculptures. It got to the point where God had to create a separate area to store the art, simply to preserve it from Katharine's clumsiness. Everytime She heard the words "uh-oh" and "my bad" filter down the hallway to Her office, God would pray to Herself that it wasn't something invaluable.

And everytime, it was...because that was just the kind of lucky Katharine was. The last straw was when she almost broke Pandora's Box(5) and Zeus freaked out, threw a lightning bolt, and broke God's favorite stained glass window.

"That's it!" She hollered, striding into the library with purpose and fervor. "You're too clumsy to work up here, Kate," She said. "There's too much to break, too much accidental havoc for you to wreak."

Katharine, who'd been enjoying a ham sandwich while perusing a copy of Carl Jung's Answer to Job(6), looked up and frowned. "Are You firing me?" she asked, ignoring the glob of mustard that fell onto the page in front of her.

God stared at the mustard glob and attempted to keep Her temper under control. She allowed Meta's voice to remind Her that there was a mountain of paperwork involved in smiting one's own employee and that no amount of personal satisfaction was worth that much inconvenience.

"No, Kate," She said, breathing steadily through Her nose, "I'm not firing you." She had a sudden idea. "I'm promoting you." She smiled a manic smile and motioned for Katharine to follow Her out of the library and away from all the breakable things. "I think I've found the exact place where your...talents...will be better appreciated."

Katharine took a bite of her sandwich. "It's the smithy, isn't it?" she asked in defeat.

God's manic smile widened and She shook Her head, wrapped an arm around Katharine's shoulders. She squeezed the angel to Her side with a little more force than necessary and the sandwich popped out of Katharine's hands and fell on the thousand year old Persian rug just inside the library door. God stared at the sandwich and the mustard stain and fought against screaming.

"Oh, Katie, it's so much better than the smithy..."

* * *

As it turned out, God's plan for Katharine was, indeed, so much better than the smithy. God told her to close her eyes and when she next opened them, she was standing on a city street surrounded by tall buildings, loud people, and metal boxes on wheels that consistently honked when they were unhappy.

"Where the bejesus am I?" she asked herself, confused and just a touch terrified. When she'd died, there had been dirt roads, horses and carts, and her village had been inhabited by sixty three and a half people (there was a leper living there). This was so far removed from what she remembered that her first thought was she'd been sent to Hell (Hades & Purgatory, Ltd).

"You're in Boston," a man said from somewhere near her and she turned her head to see him. He was tall, good looking, with a shock of black unruly hair that made him look like he'd just been kicked in the stomach by a goat. At Katharine's confused expression, he elaborated. "Massachusetts," he said. She still looked confused. "The United States of America. Planet Earth."

"Sonovabitch," she muttered. "And the date?" she asked a little more loudly.

"October third, 1973." He smiled and she found she rather liked his smile. "It's a Wednesday, if that helps."

"I always liked Wednesdays," she said, mostly to herself.

"They're so much nicer than Thursdays. I'm Harry," the man said and stuck out his hand. She looked at it, shyly took it in her own. "Harry Rogers."

"Katharine O'Malley," she said. "I'm sorry, but I'm having a wee bit of an odd moment."

"I can tell." He looked at her. "Ireland?" he asked.

"What about it?"

"Your accent. Is it Irish?"

She nodded. "Started out that way. I've been elsewhere since, though."

He sensed a story and he pointed over his shoulder. "Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" he asked. "I know whenever I'm having an odd moment, coffee tends to straighten things out for me."

"I suppose I can do that," she said. "But don't try anything funny."

In spite of the serious expression on her face, Harry laughed. "I'm an English professor," he said and she just looked at him. "I don't think I'm capable of trying anything funny."

Katharine nodded, smiled a little. "That's okay," she said. "I'm an angel. I don't think I'm allowed to try anything funny."

Harry stared at her, considered what she'd just said, and decided that not only was she one hundred percent serious, but he was ninety-nine percent sure he believed her. He also had the fleeting romantic thought that he'd marry her some day.

And he did.

(1) Not seven friends, but seven digits and however you decide to subtract them is completely up to you...

(2) Katharine, for all intents and purposes, has the vocabulary of a drunken sailor on shore leave. 'Golly' and 'gee whiz' just don't have a place in a smithy.

(3) This isn't a euphemism. She actually pounded metal, with a hammer, like a blacksmith. It was the late 16th century; pounding anything had a very different connotation than it did starting in the early 21st century.

(4) Especially Death's. There's something incredibly unnatural about a little bald man riding a skeletal horse that has strands of its own flesh hanging off it.

(5) Pandora's "Box" was actually an incredibly heavy stone urn. Why? Because the Greeks, who were always a little more difficult than all the other religions, never used boxes. "Can't stand square objects," Zeus said by way of explanation. "If I'm going to store something, I'd rather put it in something round. Less sharp edges." Seriously, that was verbatim.

(6) God likes to keep all of Her press pieces close to Her, even the bad ones...especially the bad ones. Where do you think She gets the "naughty" list from?