Brier rustled his wings restlessly under his coat and sighed.
Things just hadn't been the same since humans had invented radar.
The skies were now reserved for birds and their mechanical brethren.
'He' had been so pleased at the time. Of course 'He' seemed pleased when the funny little things had invented the tube sock.
Brier knew it was disloyal but sometimes he thought to himself that if 'He' had been born it probably would have been with the cord around 'His' neck. 'He' was what 'His' earthly children would probably call 'special'.
A girl and a guy murmured to each other in a doorway, out of the flow of foot traffic, and Brier felt their auras glance past his. The girl had seen more life than the boy but her face didn't show it. Lust, desire, guilt, penance, confusion, need, a tangle engulfed the two and made Brier’s teeth ache until he was far enough away that their flavour started to fade from his mind.
Technically Brier should be bustling about trying to save people from themselves right now, nudging them towards the holy texts and tenets of 'His' favourite toy, the church, but there didn't seem to be as much point these days. If you tried too hard you might find the authorities trying to urge you on your way or put you into a jacket that wrapped all the way around which would probably lead to some fairly unpleasant medical probing when they removed his jacket. There was all that and then there was the thing with the numbers.
Brier lit a cigarette and watched the match burning down as he drew in his first lungful of smoke. The heavenly equivalent of auditors had been reporting an unsettling trend with the soul traffic figures over the last century or so.
"So, what? Numbers are down? Everyone ending up Downstairs are they?"
"Well, no, actually,"
"Oh come on, you've seen the way they've been messing about these days. A whole swag of them have to be Down There by now,"
"That's the thing, there's been a few more turning up Downstairs but far more of them... aren't..."
"Hardly any at all,"
"So where the hell are the rest of them!?"
"We're... not sure. Possibly… reincarnation…”
“Are you shitting me? I didn’t think ‘He’ believed in recycling,”
“Who knows what he’s thinking these days. Do you want to be the one who asks him?”
‘He’ had never actually been 100% in love with everything in the Bible and as ‘His’ attention had wandered over the millennia it was possible that the holy writs had stopped equalling actual consequences. For all Brier knew people were ending up where they believed they were going to end up which could be anywhere really. Maybe he should get some of the desk jockeys upstairs to start scouting around to see if they could find any spare realms or levels. Or he could just let them continue along in their little self-fellating filing system and back patting club in peace. Heaven forbid they get themselves in a flap and have to do some real work.
Brier crossed the street to avoid a 24-hour jiggle joint and lit up another cigarette. Catholics thought they had it rough with guilt but try being a bloody angel. One time Brier had stepped into one of those places, just wanting anything really, if not a new purpose at least a distraction, and had been struck down by a wave of remorse and self-loathing so intense that they had called some paramedics to carry him outside. He’d gotten himself moving in time to bugger off before they got him into the back of the ambulance. It wasn’t even as though it had been Brier’s own guilt that had hit him, it was like a stupid built in reaction. One of ‘His’ little jokes. Angels couldn’t interact with humans, not like that. They could touch each other but that was only helpful if you were partial to sausage. Another part of ‘His’ great joke was that he hadn’t bothered to make female angels. Had thought that they might distract some of the people ‘He’ was sending them to save or some shit like that.Sometimes Brier became obsessed with the idea that the world would be a better place if the Bible had never been written, or at least had been written differently, without all the 'additions' and misinterpretations - both deliberate and accidental - that the half-crazed scribes of 'His' word had introduced into the text. At these times Brier had to stop himself rushing into 'His' presence and asking if maybe it was time for the Bible Version 2.0. Because who knew if 'He' would suddenly get excited and decide instead to start everything from scratch - people, the Earth, the universe...
So he kept his mouth shut. And maybe it was because Brier couldn't bear to think of all the creatures of this planet and those of the next and everything in the velvet depths of space being wiped out in a whim... and maybe it was because he thought he might get binned along with them... Either way he wasn't going to be the idiot who started the avalanche, no sir.
The cigarette packet tried to worry Brier about the state of his lungs, he snorted. If angels could get cancer then he'd at least eventually get to see what things were like on the other side of the big gates.
Without looking he knows that a group of just-teenagers behind him are looking at him funny as they all wait for the pedestrian crossing signal to flash.
"Don't do drugs kids," Brier said as the little green man gave the all clear.
"Fuck off Grandpa," the one kid trying to sound tough had his moment ruined by the other kids giggling in shock.
As the crowd surrounded him and all of their thoughts and fears and sins and joy began to flow through Brier's defenceless mind he sighed and opened himself the rest of the way up.
'My good deed for the day', he thought as just a hint of the Divine Grace that 'He' somehow still retained washed through all those around him, moving through touching minds to affect even some who were outside of Brier's personal range.
The boisterously swearing kids behind him fell quiet as they were overcome with an unexplained feeling of well-being and started wondering how they could become better people. Arguments stilled and there was a strange peace.
"Enjoy it while it lasts," Brier muttered under his breath, watching the people stare in wonder at the world as if they'd never seen it before, never known it as a gift or appreciated its beauty. Some of them wept.
Brier kept walking, feeling the echoes of the influence continue to move on ahead of him and was suddenly depressed. "Screw this. I need some more cigarettes,"