Lucern, Angelic Hashmallim Third Class, was not having a good day. Although angels technically cannot curse, he was doing his best to mutter the filthiest words he could think of under his breath as he rushed up the endlessly winding stairway.
“Poop! Muck! Decay! Filth!” he ranted under his breath. And he had only just been promoted up to Hashmallim, from Seraphim, and that had taken him nearly 750,000 years! The new title had come with a nifty new staff, which he had already managed to misplace, and although he hadn’t seen his new living quarters, he had been assured by a cherubim that they were very nice. Airy, he had been told. Unfortunately, airy was about all that he could expect in Heaven, but it was much better than dwelling down on the Celestial plane with all those nasty lizards everywhere. Although not any more. And hence his problem.
Panting and out of breath, he finally arrived at the landing with the proper door, and pushed his way inside heavily. The receptionist, a short female cherubim who barely managed to see over her desk, glared at him through her oval glasses. “You’re late,” she said acidly.
“Yeah, well, I’m a little distracted at the moment,” Lucern panted. “Damage control, and all that.” He looked at her pleadingly. “I can probably turn this around, right?” he asked hopefully. “Look, they can’t have been in the master plan for the long term. A change has really been long overdue. Maybe this time we can give the plants the upper hand?”
The cherubim shrugged at him. “Frankly, I never liked the things. All scaly, and the second you look away they’re trying to eat your fingers. But I’m pretty sure the Divine Plan didn’t involve them all being wiped out by a freak rock from space.” She pressed a button below her desk, and a minute later, a garbled, incomprehensible electronic voice babbled back at her through a small speaker. She nodded to Lucern. “You can head in now.”
Lucern eyed the double doors behind her with some trepidation. “Do I have to?” His feet betrayed him, however, and he moved forward. The receptionist watched passively.
Stepping through the door, Lucern found himself standing in a large study, decorated in a fashion that would become known as Baroque in approximately sixty-five million years, give or take a few thousand. A large desk occupied most of the room, with a tall and imposing angel, Melis, sitting behind it. The effect was spoiled only slightly by the large holes cut in the sides of his clawed armchair to accommodate his wings, which were softly shedding piles of dandruff on the richly carpeted floor. His halo hung slightly askew from the back of the chair. He did not look up as Lucern entered.
After several minutes of awkwardly standing, Lucern coughed slightly. Since angels don’t get sick, they have little experience with coughing, and so Lucern’s attempt sounded more like “Harroomph.” Still, it made Melis look up from the paperwork on which he was scribbling.
“Oh,” he said. “Lucern. Yes, we have been needing to talk to you. It’s about this whole meteor thing,” he added, and Lucern felt his heart sink. His hands twitched, and he resisted the nervous urge to adjust his halo.
The other angel glanced down at his paperwork, shuffled a few folders around on his massive desk. “I’m afraid that the upper councils really weren’t expecting a disruption of this magnitude,” he explained. “I mean, they had some contingencies for minor volcanic eruptions, floods, that whole sort of thing, but the entire mass extinction really threw them for a loop. They’re going to have to start over, probably take at least twenty million years before we get back to this level of advancement again.”
“But this time we get to not muck things up as much,” Lucern protested, searching desperately for a silver lining. “I mean, look at the Tyrannosaurus. Ba’al was supposed to make that guy kingly, and did you see what happened to those arms? Really, starting over is a good thing.”
Melis gave Lucern a severe glare from his side of the desk, and Lucern reluctantly fell silent. Despite his new promotion, Lucern still felt very subservient to the hashmallim currently chastising him. He was technically still two classes below the other angel, but he instinctively reacted as though he was an entire level down.
“The high councils had plans to remedy that,” Melis commented defensively. “And Ba’al is also going to be talked to sternly. But the council needs someone to point the finger at. The Almighty himself has taken notice that all of his pretty lizards aren’t roaming around any more, snacking on plants and each other, and we’re going to need someone to step up and say that they were responsible.”
The sinking feeling in Lucern’s stomach was threatening to rip him through the floor and all the way down to Earth. Angels tend to have limited foresight, preferring instead to follow a preordained plan, but even he could see where this was going. “You want me to be the scapegoat for all this,” he said hoarsely.
Part II is coming up next!