Monday, September 17, 2012

On Duty

Michael sat in the chair, feet up on the table, scrolling through a book on his phone.  He sipped his coffee and thumbed over to pause the song he was listening to.  He pulled out the earbuds and left them on the table with the phone as he rose from the chair.  Picking up a long cane, he moved to bar the narrow hall.

“You know you can’t, Gabriel,” he said.

“I will inspect all corners of Creation, Michael,” the primly-dressed angel said, tapping at a handheld device. He raised
his hand and said, "hold on," then pressed a finger to his ear.  “Hello? Yes, I’m in the southern wing, near the edge.  No, I haven’t.  I was just about to-- no, I just need to-- but you said-- yes, but you-- no, I-- no, sir.  No.  Okay, sir.  Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.  I will, sir.”  He pressed his ear again, then tucked the handheld into his jacket.  “He said to tell you hello.”

Michael nodded.

Gabriel cleared his throat, looking around.  He took the handheld back out and tapped at it some more.  Then, “So, no issues or concerns to report?”

“Nope.  Everything’s fine.  Tell him thanks for the coffee and the phone.”

“Of course.”  A lengthy pause, then more tapping at the handheld.  “Well, I should be moving along, then.”


“Right.  Yes.  Well, keep up the good, um... hrm.”  Gabriel stared awkwardly at Michael a moment, then abruptly turned on his heel and walked away.

Michael stood a little longer.  He heard a soft tapping of footsteps in the hall behind him.  They stopped a few feet
from the entryway.

“You’re out of your room,” the archangel said, not turning around.

“Oh, stop it,” the devil replied, leaning against the wall.  “You enjoy these little visits.”

“I really don’t.”

“So send me to my room.”

Michael grinned and returned to his seat.  The devil remained where he was.  Michael removed the earbuds from his phone and plugged it into a slot in the table.  He tapped the screen and soft music began to play.  

“So I can stay?”

“It’s either let you hang around a while or call a few seraphim.”  Michael waved his hand dismissively, “and Gabriel is seraphim enough for one day.”  He took another sip of his coffee.

The devil sat on the floor of the hallway and leaned back against the wall.  He pulled a flask from his jacket and drank, then tucked it away.  “Gabriel really wants in here.  No one volunteers for Creation Census THAT many times.”

“That’s only because he doesn’t know what’s in there.”

“You don’t know all that’s in here, either.”

“I know enough.”

“I suppose.”

But, since you bring it up, how are things inside?” Michael asked.


“Need anything?”

“Plenty.  But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?”

Michael smiled.  “I guess it is.”

“Still,” the devil said, “thanks for asking.”

Michael nodded.  The devil took another pull from his flask.  As he put it away, he cleared his throat.

“Urm, I don’t know if I should say anything, but... well...”

“That pack of beezlebubs?”

“Yeah.  And they’ve got a few of the azazel with them.  They’re looking to break out.”

Michael grunted and tapped at his phone.  “Why tell me?” he asked.

“Because if they break out, I’ll have to break out,” the devil said.  “And if I break out, I’ll have to make another try for the throne.”

“And you don’t want to?”

“Heck no,” the devil said.  “You only have to get your ass kicked by God once.  But,” he sighed, “if it gets around that I’m afraid of God, then I lose control of Hell and I’m just another demon.  Or worse, I keep control of Hell but spend millennia fighting some wretched war against rebellious demon factions.  No,” he shook his head, “better they think I’d invade again in a second, if only you didn’t have the only way out sealed up tight.”  He shared a quick smile with his jailer, then stood.  “Well,” he said, “it’s time I turn in. Thanks for the conversation.  Next time he simpers by, tell Gabriel I said hi.”

“Of course.  Good night, Lucifer.”

“Good night, Michael.”

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