Is…not watching yourself burn to death.
It was definitely the strangest feeling I think I have ever experienced. I stood there, watching my carcass lying on the ground, slowly turning a crispy golden brown. I looked over at Tundra, who was a particularly nasty shade of red after boiling in water melted off of his ice powers.
Well, I suppose he died worse. I passed out pretty quickly so I didn’t feel much. But still, what a strange sight, watching myself die. Around me I saw flame, mountains and valleys and fjords of flame, licking and consuming what little was left inside out little dome shaped inferno. Soon there would be no more oxygen in here, and the fire would stop, covering the tomb in a thick layer of smoke. It was pitch dark inside the dome, yet I could see everything so clearly. And I tell you, it was quite a sight to see.
So, I figured, I’m dead. Now I’m a spirit or something or other and I’ll either be heading to heaven or hell pretty soon. The only problem is, I still felt heavy, a presence of flesh still clung to me like static intensive pants. I didn’t FEEL like a spirit, I still fight somewhat…alive.
Of course, when I started to move downwards, all the thoughts on the corporeal nature of my being slipped away.
“Holy shit,” I heard myself say plain as day, “I’m going to Hell!”
Man, you figure sacrificing yourself for the greater good and fighting for truth and justice would almost guarantee a ticket into Heaven, but I guess not. I had nothing left to do but accept my fate. So, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, squeezed out a few tears, and waited for the searing pains of Hell.
That wasn’t Hell.
That was the ground.
The ground outside the dome, where a nice little memorial service and epitaph had been carved into the steel.
“How nice,” I thought, “people are mourning.”
There were flowers and those little circle of flower thingies people always put at graves, and there were candles and pictures and all sorts of tributes laying around the dome.
Wow, I never knew I meant this much to so many people.
There was one picture that caught my eye, one of me and my friends, on the back I found a very touching note.
I know you’re still watching over us.
I had to admit, that brought tears to me eyes. Thinner tears than a human’s, but thickers ones than a ghost’s. It was like I was caught somewhere in between death and life. Be that as it may, I had to tell Jade and the others that I was still here, but how?
It was then I felt as if my mind was being thrust forward, through the very fabric of space and time and into a place of infinte whiteness. There were people of all kinds, walking around, happy as I have ever seen people be. They were talking, eating, sleeping, what have you, and everwhere there was this feeling of sweetness and good.
“So…this is Heaven…” I looked around, “Pretty nice.”
“It serves it’s purpose.” I heard a low, calm voice behind me.
What I saw when I turned around was something I could not have prepared myself to see had I lived one hundred lifetimes.
“Right you are, Eric. It’s nice to meet you,” he extended a hand. I shook it warmly.
“I…I’m shaking hands with Jesus, aren’t I?”
“Yes you are,” he said with a grin.
“That’s the typical expression.”
“You’re not exactly how I pictured you, I must admit,” I shrugged.
“Oh, do you want the whole “Last Supper” thing? I can do that if you want: the long hair, the robe, the halo. Some people prefer that.”
“Naw, you look pretty comfortable like this.”
The face was like it was usually shown, but his hair was shorter and simply combed forward. His beard was trimmed, and he was wearing a polo shirt and khakis.
“I chose something that you might find applicable to your frame of mind.” he smiled again. He really liked to smile.
“Like I said, you look pretty well at ease. So do you greet everyone that comes up here?”
“Oh Heavens no,” he laughed, “I don’t have the time for that, even if I am the Son of God. That’s St. Peter’s job.”
“So then why are you talking to me?” I wondered.
“Well, we’ve got a bit of a story to tell you. You see, your parents never really told you this, but your family was actually one of Angels, sent to live on earth and monitor the human race. We got tons of them all over the world, it helps us keep tabs on people.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me. So my family is actually Angelic in nature, so what am I doing up here?”
“Well, your family’s job is to observe, but we think that you have a bit of a… higher purpose. Your actions in fighting evil on earth and your self sacrifice were pretty good indications that you have better things to do than sit up here and watch people all day.”
“True, I was never a fan of reality TV.”
“Nah, me neither,” Jesus chuckled, “not my idea. Anyway, we figured that, to use the old cliche, ‘it just wasn’t your time. So we’re going to send you back, of course. Not as a human, but as an agent of our little operation up here. Let’s just say we’re promoting you. You’re moving up the Angelic corporate ladder, so to speak. Your family was of the Mercurian Choir, those who deal with humans on a day to day basis. Now, we don’t normally do this, but we’re going to bump you all the way up to a Cherubim, a level two, a Guardian. Don’t tell anyone up here, though, we usually don’t promote people that far, but you’ve shown proficiency. Walk with me and I’ll get you ready for your return.”
“Just a closer walk with Thee,” I joked.
“Ugh, those songs are so overplayed,” Jesus rolled his eyes.
As we walked, he talked about my new status. I am to be a Guardian walking the earth, protecting humans, God’s favorite creations, from basically annhilating themselves. I’m to join back up with my old group, and continue in their fight against annhilation and all that good stuff. I was given standard angel battle gear: flaming sword, angelic armor, and best of all, wings!
“I get wings?” I giggled with glee.
“Yeah, that’s everyone’s favorite part. But remember, you lose the wings and you’re just a squishy flesh-bag again. Which is why we have decided to…adapt your armor into something a little more…protective of your wings.” He held up a new trenchcoat, white as pure driven snow.
“Indeed it is. Angelic fabric. Impregnable, invulnerable, and able to change shape as you command. Pretty awesome stuff, if you ask me,” Jesus winked.
“Wow…I just…I can’t thank you guys enough. Giving me a second chance, allowing me to continue to fight for what’s right, and giving me new duds! You guys are fantastic!”
“Well, I’m not Jesus for nothing,” he chuckled.
“I suppose I had better get back down there. How do I…you know…fly?”
“You’ll know. When we made you Cherubim, we implanted all the knowledge that you’ll need. And don’t worry about the slight bit of weightlessness, you get used to it. If Angels weren’t made of thinner stuff than humans, then they wouldn’t be able to fly, right?” Jesus then cleared his throat and adopted his “fancy God tone.”
“Now go, and do the bidding of the Lord God upon the earth. May you protect the innocent, punish the wicked, and represent the Kingdom of Heaven with the highest of honor!” he then whispered, as an aside to me, “that means no booze and no hookers…for the first week.”
And with a wink and a shove, I was pushed out of Heaven, and sent hurtling to the ground below. I saw the earth appear, then North America, then Wisconsin, then Kenosha, then lake Michigan, and it was about the time I crashed into the lake that I noticed I was sizzling hot from friction and that the impact should have turned me into human jelly.
And that’s when it hit me. I wasn’t human anymore. I was something just a teensy bit…higher.
As I crawled out of the lake (which I could breath in, mind you) I shook of my wings and donned my new white coat. The heavy lake winds blew it in a heroic fashion, and as I donned my new old sunglasses, a little present from old J.C, I smiled an angelic smile. Good thing the campus beach is deserted most nights, and those who saw me were either too stoned or drunk to notice me. I looked up and saw the residence hall where Jade lived, and it suddenly seemed very clear to me. I flexed my new wings experimentally, and they felt good. My smile grew bigger and bigger, until it lit up the night.
“I’m back and I’m biblical, baby.”